Scheme to partially demolish and rebuild 1990s extension to grade II*-listed complex

Developer CO-RE’s plans to partially demolish and rebuild a 1990s extension to the Holborn Bars office complex near Chancery Lane have been given the go-ahead.

The 2 Waterhouse Square scheme is the first phase of a three-phase redevelopment planned by insurance company Prudential at the grade II*-listed site on the edge of the City of London.

Prudential has owned the building for more than 100 years, having commissioned Natural History Museum architect Alfred Waterhouse to design it as its flagship headquarters in the late 19th century.

It has been altered several times over its history, with the latest significant addition being a large seven-storey extension designed in 1993 by EPR Architects.

Under CO-RE’s plans, designed by Orms and approved by Camden council last week, EPR’s extension will be stripped back to its core and expanded to provide nearly 30,000 sq m of office and retail space, 627 sq m more than the existing building.

>> See also: CO-RE working up proposal for £80m refurb of listed Holborn Bars complex

EPR Waterhouse Sq

The existing building at 2 Waterhouse Square, designed by EPR in 1993

It would also include new ground floor spaces intending to increase footfall and commercial activity in surrounding streets.

Gardiner & Theobald is on the team as cost consultant alongside structural engineer Heyne Tillett Steel, planning consultant Gerald Eve, acoustic and sustainability consultant Hoare Lea, project manager WT Partnership and transport consultant Velocity.

Camden’s planning officers had recommended the scheme for approval ahead of the council’s planning committee meeting, describing it as a “high quality” design with a “well-considered composition”.

The officers’ report added that the proposals would significantly improve the experience of the public realm around the site and would preserve the character of the listed complex.

It described EPR’s existing extension as of “no significance” in the context of Holborn Bars. The local Hatton Garden Conservation Area appraisal also criticised the block for “lacking interest” and suffering from inactive frontages.

The application received no objection from Historic England, which said it “recognises the benefits of replacing part of the EPR extension to Waterhouse Square with a new building that appears more sympathetic to the listed building’s areas of high significance”.