A £1 billion regeneration plan is on the table for Whiteley’s shopping centre. Developers Meyer Bergman and Warren Todd’s Warrior Group asked Foster + Partners to design the scheme which has alarmed residents with its proposed mushrooming scale which will dominate surrounding historic terraces. The entire area around it is Grade II listed residential, but this has not deterred the developer from proposing luxury residential towers of up to 10 storeys which will loom over the Victorian terraces and be seen for miles.
Plans are to demolish the light filled atrium with its decorative iron work railings topped by the original 1912 tier glazed dome. The indoor shopping experience out of the inclement London weather will be replaced with a central outdoor courtyard with the usual high street retail suspects. The “La Scala’’ sweeping staircase will be removed to a boutique hotel where many Londoner’s pockets will not afford access to see it.
“While residents of Bayswater are delighted that Queensway is set for a face lift and agree that Whiteleys could benefit from development work, we feel that the current proposal,gives little to the community. Its too big, too high, not sufficiently sympathetic to the building’s remaining historic features and will damage the surrounding listed buildings mduring its 4 year plus construction. We are concerned that Westminster council have not given sufficient consideration to these issues in their haste to applaud the proposal.” says resident Eilidh Middleton.
Here’s the old building’s potted history … Whiteleys department store was created by William Whitely who started a curtain shop at 31 Westbourne Grove in 1863 (it’s now the Lokkanta Meze & Barbecue restaurant.) By 1867 it had expanded to a row of shops containing 17 separate departments with over 6,000 staff. Then, disaster. In 1907, Whiteley was murdered by Cecil Whiteley, who thought he was his illegitimate son. After his death two of Whiteley’s sons fulfilled their father’s dream and built the big department store designed by John Belcher and John James Joass. It had a theatre and a golf-course on the roof and in 1927 rival store Selfridges bought it. It had various ups and downs, was closed down in 1981 and stayed empty until the building was bought by a firm called the Whiteleys Partnership in 1986. Extensive reconstruction followed and although much of the original structure was demolished many of the historic features remain such as the corner cupolas, central two tier Atrium, staircase and decorative railings to the atrium openings. In September 2013 the centre was bought by a Brunie family trust for £100 million. The building was designated a Grade II listed building in 1970.
You can have a look at the Foster + Partners proposal here … whiteleysdevelopment A petition which calls for a reconsideration of design with lower blocks and less bulk is asking for your backing before mid-March when Westminster’s councillors are all set to approve this proposal… change.org
I know this is going on and on, but there are also interesting plans to develop Queensway’s streets which look great, here’s the video, you may want to forward it because the guy does drone on a bit … vimeo.com