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Celebrated brutalist car park to be demolished for ten-storey hotel

Planning chief says 'times have changed' and new block is 'eye-catching' and 'bold'

18 August, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

The car park in Welbeck Street 

A STRIKING 1970s car park will be demolished after council chiefs rubber-stamped a new hotel.

The triangular patterned, brutalist-style building in Welbeck Street, was designed by Michael Blampied and Partners between 1968 and 1970 for the neighbouring Debenhams department store.

It also provided a base- ment storage area for the store connected to it through a series of under- ground tunnels.

But despite its impres- sive appearance, it was rejected for listing by His- toric England after an assessment in 2014 and 2015.

One “strongly” worded objection to the demoli- tion of the “beautiful building” said it was “of great architectural signifi- cance to London and the UK”.

Another official objec- tion said: “Quite how this building can be described as bland, uninspired, lack- ing historic or aesthetic value is totally beyond me. Yes, it may need a clean and the ground-floor lev- els have not been looked after, but look up!

“This building is stunning. I totally object to its demolition, to build a replica building of every  thing else being constructed in London currently when this building is totally unique.”

The building developer, Marylebone Lane LP, plans to build a 10-storey hotel with two basement floors, to be run by Shiva Hotels.

There would be a restaurant, bar and café which will all be open to the public, a spa, a roof terrace and roof-top plant. It would be significantly higher than the existing building.

The 359-space NCP car park, which is also on Marylebone Lane, is less than a quarter full most of the time, according to research by the developers. Currently the site also includes a Meat Liquor restaurant and a nightclub called SophistiCats.

The nearby Oriental Club, a private members’ establishment, has object- ed to the plans. It claims its guests often stay in rooms within the club and that the new building will result in light being blocked.

The developers said they were planning to create “a building of high design quality to act as a catalyst on this prominent but neglected site”.

The Marylebone Association welcomed the new building. Chairman Tim Carnegie said: “The brutalist-style car park was originally developed by Debenhams in the 1960s as part of an agreement

with Westminster Council to provide space for cars as part of its new Oxford Street department store.

“Times have changed, the building avoided being listed by Historic England and is thus now being redeveloped as a hotel.

“We welcome the Eric Parry-designed building as it has sensible massing and takes account of the surroundings.”

Councillor Richard Beddoe, Westminster City Council’s senior chairman of planning, said: “The proposed building which is to replace the car park is of a bold, eye-catching design, of high quality that will preserve and enhance the character of Marylebone.”

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