London’s largest mega-basement shopping centre to be built in massive underground car park


An underground car park in a Georgian square behind Oxford Street is to be transformed into a £150m “innovative” mall the size of four football pitches which could be used for shops and a medical centre.



Artist’s impression of what the huge centre could look like

The Cavendish Square car park where up to an hour’s parking in the three underground levels costs £8, will be demolished and replaced with London’s largest mega-basement shopping centre after an application was approved by Westminster Council’s planning committee.

The 24-hour car park with 432 spaces will be knocked down and developers Reef Cavendish will build a fourth subterranean layer below the existing concrete structure to create space for healthcare, office, retail, entertainment and leisure – all underground.

It was hailed as a “very exciting, bold, innovative scheme” by deputy chair Louise Hyams at last night’s (TUES APRL 28) virtual planning sub-committee. It’s thought to be the largest scheme approved in Westminster since the lockdown.

She said the current building is ugly and the new scheme is “a great improvement to the public realm and into our plans for Oxford Street.”

Stewart Deering, Joint Chief Executive of Reef Group, said the team was in advanced discussions with some prospective tenants. He said: “We will invest more than £150m in developing a vibrant, sustainable and sensitively designed place with a core focus on health and wellbeing.

“The scheme is designed with flexibility in mind and we’re talking to occupiers from a variety of sectors. The health and wellbeing industry is predicted to grow substantially and Cavendish Square London is well placed to respond to this trend.”



The Cavendish Square car park will be demolished and replaced with London’s largest mega-basement shopping centre

The Greater London Authority said the scheme “presents a rare opportunity” for an extra entrance to nearby Oxford Circus Underground station to cope with predicted increases in passenger numbers.

The applicant said it thought the plan would have negligible impact on passenger numbers.

Planning committee chairman, James Spencer, said with “the pressures on the high street and even more after the coronavirus it is understandable after that it is quite speculative.”

He said: “It’s a really interesting design and quite innovative in how its retrofitted a design into what is a car park and unloved little garden.”

The site is one block away from Oxford Street and one block from Regent Street “in the heart of the West End” and surrounded by listed buildings on the square which leads to Harley Street, according to council planning officer Mike Walton.

Once completed it will have space for a range of commercial uses, according to developers, Reed Cavendish.

They said there is “no definite identified use” for the centre, but could include tenants offering medical diagnostics and wellbeing as well as shops and offices.

There will also be two loading bays to deliver goods.

The developers hope to start work next year and finish it in 2023. The ground floor gardens will be landscaped with improved access across the square.

The scheme could set a fashion for more underground shopping malls.

Just one objector contacted the council calling for cycling space. The New West End Company said it supported the scheme.

The Marylebone Society said there should be good management plans because of the flexibility of the tenants.

Ward councillor Tim Barnes said it was a “real asset and sight will diversify” the area which is popular with tourists. He said removing the car park could help “disrupt anti-social behaviour” which is a problem in the area.

Westminster Council has its own ambitious plans for nearby Oxford Street where House of Fraser’s flagship store was spared from closure when the company went into administration in 2018.

Mr Walton said the plan fits with the council’s vision for the Oxford Street area.

The retail sector, however, has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic which saw shops pull down their shutters to protect staff and customers.

If you have a story for us, please email our reporter julia.gregory@reachplc.com





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