Almacantar increased scheme’s height following pressure from freeholder for more offices

Westminster council has given developer Almacantar permission to rejig its Rafael Viñoly-designed scheme to redevelop Marble Arch Tower.

The authority’s planning committee voted on Tuesday night to grant approval for revised plans for the landmark West End site at the corner of Oxford Street and Edgware Road.

Under the plans, the existing 22-storey office block will be torn down and replaced by a slightly taller building.

Almacantar, which is also behind plans to revamp Centrepoint at the opposite end of Oxford Street, is planning to replace the 1962 tower with two new buildings – Viñoly’s first buildings in the West End.   

The developer secured approval from Westminster to redevelop the site last June but had to submit revised proposals following pressure from its freeholder the Portman Estate to increase the amount of office space in the scheme, according to a report presented to the council’s planning committee.  

The revised designs increase the amount of office floorspace in the scheme by just over 2,000 sq m and add an additional floor to the approved 17-storey scheme. The extra floor will be housing to compensate for the conversion of a lower level from residential to office use.

In order to accommodate the extra office space, Almacantar has also cut the number of flats in the scheme from 53 to no more than 49.

As well as shops and a new Odeon cinema facilities on the basement, ground and first floor levels, the revised plans include a new public art work by Lee Simmons.

Westminster officers expressed reservations about the proposal to increase the height of the scheme but said the quality of Vinoly’s architecture is arguably better than the existing building.

The scheme’s affordable housing element will be built off site in a 76-home scheme that Almacantar is building further up the Edgware Road, of which 47 units will be affordable.