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The First Of Many? West End Car Park To Be Turned Into £150M Mixed-Use Scheme

The proposed scheme in Cavendish Square

The car parks of London zone 1 are looking increasingly anachronistic. And that makes them ripe for redevelopment.

Once upon a time they provided a great amenity for the shoppers of the West End or the workers of the City, allowing them to get into Central London by car if they wanted to. Today, public policy like the congestion charge and the ultra-low emission zone are discouraging people from taking private cars into the city centre.

Private car use overall is diminishing: The number of people in Britain taking their driving test is declining year on year, and IH Market predicts new car sales will start to decline in the developed world in the next decade.

Earlier this month General Motors said it wanted to start moving into the autonomous vehicle market, as it saw more growth there than in conventional cars. Ford has stopped making cars entirely, and now makes trucks and positions itself as a “smart mobility”company.

All of this points to car parks in the very centre of cities being used less and less, and thus becoming less and less profitable. This in turn opens them up to new uses. And this week one of the most ambitious car park conversion schemes yet was unveiled in London.

Westminster Council has appointed developer Reef and Savills to transform the underground car park in Cavendish Square into a new £150M, 200K SF mixed-use scheme.

The car park is just off Oxford Street, and extends three stories underground. Three new customer entrances will provide the flexibility to accommodate a diverse mix of tenants that can be interlinked or separated as required.

Initial interest has ranged from technology-focused retailers, global office occupiers, experiential leisure brands and medical providers attracted by the Harley Street proximity, Reef and Savills said.

“We have been approached by a diverse selection of occupiers looking to take the space in its entirety as well as individual floors,” Savills Director Sam Foyle said.

“The development will be a blueprint for repurposing space in capacity-constrained urban environments, demonstrating what smart design can achieve,” Reef founder Stewart Deering said.

Some central London car parks are already being converted, with many more having the potential to follow.

Earlier this year Westminster Council gave consent for the Welbeck Street car park in the West End to be converted into a hotel by specialist investor Shiva Hotels.

Hondo Enterprises, the investor owned by former Atlas Capital Director Taylor McWilliams, owns three car parks in the West End, City and Docklands which have been earmarked as having redevelopment potential.

One of the previous owners of the underground car park at Finsbury Square put forward a plan to redevelop the facility into a 2,000-capacity conference venue but the plans were ultimately blocked by the local authority.

In 2013 Blackstone sold the listed Art Deco Brewer Street car park in Soho to private investor Mark Wadwha for £62M in 2013. He has turned it into a cultural destination, hosting art installations from the likes of the Chapman brothers as well as shows for London Fashion Week.

Built in the 1930s, it was the first multi-storey car park in London, and has long been watched as having the potential for redevelopment, with rumours swirling at the time of the sale of a conversion into a Soho House-esque venue.