But Foster & Partners’ proposed retrofit of nearby department store site handed recommendation for approval ahead of next week’s planning meeting

Savile Row Fathom 1

Fathom Architects’ plans to replace an unlisted block on Savile Row with a newbuild of similar size have been recommended for refusal ahead of next week’s planning meeting

Plans to demolish and rebuild an eight-storey building in Mayfair are set to be refused by Westminster council next week as the borough targets its goal to become a ‘retrofit-first’ city.

Proposals designed by Fathom Architects would see 18-19 Saville Row replaced by a new build office of roughly the same size, aiming to address issues with the existing building which developer The Pollen Estate believes are “increasingly rendering [it] obsolete”.

But Westminster’s planning officers have recommended the scheme for refusal ahead of the council’s next planning committee meeting on the grounds that the redevelopment of the site is “not considered to be justified in sustainability or circular economy terms”.

Meanwhile, Foster & Partners’ proposals for a deep retrofit of a former Fenwick department store, also in Mayfair and which closed last month, have been recommended for approval ahead of the same planning committee meeting.

The two recommendations come as the council is running a public consultation on its plans to significantly strengthen its planning policies on retrofit aiming to discourage developers from pursuing new build schemes.

Developers would face carbon offsetting payments up to nine times higher than current levels and would be required to explore re-use options on existing buildings before looking at demolition.

The rules, some of the strongest proposed by any London borough, are part of the council’s plan to make Westminster net zero by 2040, 10 years ahead of the government’s deadline for the whole UK.

The local authority’s planning officers said the Savile Row scheme “fails to adhere to circular economy principles and principles of sustainable design, both of which prioritise the retention, refitting and refurbishment of existing buildings”.

The officers’ report added that it would “fail to help transition London to a low carbon circular economy through generating unjustified waste and carbon emissions”.

For the Fosters scheme, the report said the sustainability of the proposed retrofit of the site, which is an amalgamation of several buildings located at the junction of Brook Street and New Bond Street, was significant enough to outweigh any perceived heritage harm to the surrounding Mayfair conservation area.

Around half of the site’s existing fabric and three quarters of its facades would be retained under the plans, which would add five new storeys, increasing total floorspace by a third.

The planning committee will meet on 2 April to make a decision on the two applications.