Westminster council has approved Woods Bagot’s controversial plans for a ‘landmark’ building in London’s Leicester Square Conservation Area
Replacing the current Odeon building at 40 Leicester Square, the 30,600m² scheme for hotel giant Edwardian Group features a 360-room hotel and cinema complex that includes a spa, restaurants, bars and a 500-seat banqueting suite.
The mammoth scheme has been vehemently opposed by heritage groups because it requires the demolition of an entire block of 19th and 20th Century buildings including ‘the handsome 1865 Victorian London pub’, the Hand & Racquet in Whitcombe Street (pictured).
Victorian Society case officer James Hughes said the council’s decision was ‘hugely disappointing.’
Hughes told the AJ: ‘We along with other heritage groups objected from the off. It is a hugely disappointing decision. The scheme is on such a huge scale that it is going to de-face that zone. It will erode character to a huge and dramatic degree.’
But Jonathan Leah, senior Associate at Woods Bagot, said Westminster’s decision was ‘..a great endorsement for a design which has had to address the complex challenges of a key central London site.
‘The new hotel will strengthen Leicester Square’s position as Europe’s flagship ‘Red Carpet’ destination and will help to make this previously underused south west corner of Leicester Square significantly more vibrant.’
Councillor Barbara Grahame, Labour Planning Spokesperson, said: ‘Once again, Westminster Conservatives have gone against their own UDP planning policies and have accepted a fraction of what is required to build much needed affordable homes in Westminster [£2,958,074 instead of the £27,991,739].
‘These big commercial developments are the only way of financing new affordable homes in Westminster. Yet, time after time, the Conservatives refuse to apply their own policies to secure the extra money that is owed to the community. The May elections are residents’ opportunity to vote for more Labour Councillors so that the Council’s policies can be properly applied and more money raised for new homes at prices that ordinary residents can afford.’