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Renovation begins for House of Fraser London's Oxford Street

PDP Planning approval has been granted for ideas to expand and significantly renovate the famous House of Fraser department store on London's Oxford Street, according to the city.

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Plans for the practice’s 1930s structure include the demolition of the present set-back sixth and seventh floors and the construction of three new stories – two of which will have terraces – as well as a plant level to accommodate the practice’s growth.

The architect Louis Blanc, who also constructed the Basil Street expansion of Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, was the original designer of the Art Deco structure in its original form.

The 8th floor will have restaurant with panoramic views

Renovation of the Portland stone facade of the steel-framed structure

Between the first and fifth floors, the structure’s windows will be replaced with double-glazed units, as part of PDP’s plans for Publica Properties. Other features of PDP’s plans for Publica Properties include the development of double-height ground-floor entrances as well as extra shopfronts. It is also planned to renovate the Portland stone façade of the steel-framed structure.

DH Evans, a department store that used to be located in the building, will be demolished to make way for six stories of open-plan office space, which will be added to the unlisted structure. They will include a number of heated and ventilated ‘winter gardens,’ which will provide people with the sensation of being outside without adding West End pollution and noise into the environment.

The eighth storey of the building will be home to a 1,000m2 restaurant with panoramic views of the surrounding area.

As a whole, the proposed additions would increase the gross interior space of the building by about 1,280m2, which will bring the overall gross internal area to 31,507m2.

Designed by James Gibbs and finished in 1724

The impact of the proposals on the Harley Street Conservation Area and the adjoining Grade-I listed St Peter’s Church, which was designed by James Gibbs and finished in 1724, according to a study presented to members of Westminster City Council’s planning committee, was a major factor to be considered.

According to planning officials, there have been no concerns from either the neighbour consultations or the Marylebone Society. They went on to say that Historic England, the government’s heritage adviser, had declined to comment.

Officers who recommended acceptance of PDP’s applications noted that the increase in building height and mass was ‘significant,’ but stated that it was ‘appropriate in the context of the huge department shops nearby and the commercial nature of Oxford Street’.

High-quality shopfronts and an increase in energy efficiency

‘A number of enhancements’, they said, included a reorganisation of the building’s Chapel Place façade, which officials claimed would ‘better the overall setting of St Peter’s Cathedral…. They also acknowledged the installation of new high-quality shopfronts and an increase in energy efficiency, as seen by the achievement of a targeted BREEAM Excellent grade.

A disagreement with the project team over windows was highlighted by officers, who claimed that the planned window replacements – a combination of two and three-paned windows – had the potential to “diminish the architectural appeal” of the building and its contribution to a conservation area.

They asked members of the planning committee to only accept the concept if it had eight-pane double-glazed windows that were designed to match the existing fenestration of the structure. However, during their meeting on Tuesday night (9 November), councillors rejected the suggestion, despite the fact that the project was touted as a ‘£100 million’ renovation.

The designs for the structure, according to PDP London, are ‘heritage-driven.’

Partner Andrew Davidson stated that the firm’s suggestions for the Oxford Street building will help to secure the structure for the future.

A dynamic and adaptable mixed-use destination

The transformation of a stunning Art Deco landmark from a London department store with a single identity and brand into a dynamic and adaptable mixed-use destination has been described as a privilege by the project’s executive director, who claimed it was a “once in a hundred year” undertaking.

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