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‘Missed opportunity’ to save Brutalist car park as Parry is swapped for EPR

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Heritage campaigners have criticised new proposals by EPR to replace a Brutalist car park in London’s Marylebone with a luxury hotel as a ’missed opportunity’ to save its striking diamond-patterned façade

The practice’s plans to redevelop the Welbeck Street multi-storey car park supersede an Eric Parry Architects-designed project which was approved in 2017 but later abandoned following a ‘change of vision’ by the client.

The new scheme, submitted by operator Shiva Hotels, will go before Westminster councillors tomorrow (6 February) and has won the backing of planning officers, who have recommended it for approval.

EPR’s scheme would see the Brutalist gem bulldozed to make way for a 10-storey luxury hotel with 205 rooms, a rooftop swimming pool with bar, and a ground-floor restaurant.

The design features a circular tower by the hotel entrance, clad with a latticework of bronze fins. 

But The Twentieth Century Society, which has campaigned to save the building, said it was ‘very disappointing’ that the car park’s ‘stunning and greatly appreciated’ façade could not have been incorporated.

Claire Price, head of casework, said: ’We consider the Welbeck Street car park to be of considerable architectural interest and of distinct local merit.

’The most important feature is its striking façade: the society would like to see this retained. This is achievable without losing floor space, as has been demonstrated by alternative schemes suggested at the time of the last application.’

Eric Parry’s proposal for the site, which was also opposed by The Twentieth Century Society, was similar in height and massing but featured brightly coloured ceramic cladding on the building’s exterior.

In a report, Westminster planners said EPR’s design was ’arguably not as bold and eye-catching’ as the original proposals but described it as an ’acceptable’ alternative design approach.

The car park was built between 1968 and 1970 for department store Debenhams and was designed by Michael Blampied and Partners. Its façade is made of interlocking precast diamond-shaped panels.

In 2013, the Design Museum included the car park in an exhibition celebrating lesser-known architecture in London. However, In 2015 the building was assessed and rejected for listing by English Heritage (now Historic England).

EPR and Shiva Hotels have been approached for comment.

Jeremy segrott wellbeck street car park cc

Jeremy segrott wellbeck street car park cc

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