Blackfriars project is overseas developer’s UK debut

Plans by an overseas developer to partially demolish and refurbish a 1950s office block near Blackfriars station have been unanimously approved by the City of London.

The scheme by HOK for Belgian debutant Atenor was approved earlier this week and will see the eight-storey Fleet House given a facelift while an adjacent pub on the site, St Bride’s Tavern, will be demolished and replaced.

Around two thirds of the office block will be retained with the refurb set to provide 7,200 sq m of office space, cycle parking and four external terraces, three of which will have views of St Paul’s Cathedral.

fleet 2

How the new block will look

But plans to demolish the pub, also built in the 1950s, have been criticised with objections received during consultations including concerns that its historical, cultural and social value would be lost if it was replaced by a modern building.

City of London councillor Martha Grekos said the pub was “part of the fabric” of Fleet Street and “sustains and enhances the area with its unique charm and character”.

Grekos, who is also a planning lawyer, said: “Economically, the pub is doing very well, socially it is the ‘glue’ for the locals and culturally it adds value because of this and caters for social wellbeing and social interest, rather than just another chain coffee shop filling up the area.”

HOK pub

HOK’s plans for the replacement pub

However, HOK said in planning documents that the redevelopment would create a “larger, more inclusive and safer” pub than the current premises. It would be housed across two storeys including an “active and generous” double-height ground floor with large amounts of daylight, the practice said.

The plans replace a former consented scheme by Perkins & Will which was approved in 2015 and would have seen the entire site including the office building flattened and replaced with a new build block.

Atenor UK director Eoin Conroy said the scheme “will make this building more appealing to future occupiers”.

Fleet House was acquired by Atenor in April and is its first project in London. Other members of the team include cost consultant Core 5, project manager 3PM, structural engineer AKT II and M&E consultant Hoare Lea.

The scheme is close to a £50m scheme by Gensler to overhaul a 1990s office at 100 New Bridge Street. The work is set to be carried out by Mace.

The work would add an extra storey and almost 3,800 sq m of office space in the process for workplace developer Helical. The block, between City Thameslink and Blackfriars railway stations, was designed by RHWL and completed in 1992.