Published: 09 February 2012
by JOSH LOEB
THE go-ahead to build nearly 300 homes on the three-acre wasteland formerly home to the Middlesex Hospital in Bloomsbury has been handed to developers.
Permission for the £750million scheme on the site, which sits on the borough border, was granted by Westminster City Council planning chiefs last Wednesday.
A developers’ consortium – a joint venture between the Icelandic bank Kaupthing, Aviva Investors and Exemplar – have designated 54 of the 291 homes as “affordable”.
This falls short of Westminster’s policy that 25 per cent of the units on all new housing developments should usually be earmarked as “affordable”.
But the developers argued that their scheme would not be economically viable without a smaller share.
They have agreed to pay £3.85m to the council “in lieu” of the homes, and this money will be earmarked for building new housing for key workers and those with low incomes.
A £3.3m contribution is also being made towards Crossrail, and the meeting heard that the developers had agreed to pay a £300,000 “dowry” towards the upkeep of the historic Gothic chapel that has stood alone at the centre of the site since the hospital was demolished in
The fallow site – the largest
of its kind in central London – has been mired in controversy
for many years and came to symbolise the fall-out from
the financial crisis.
Brothers Nick and Christian Candy abandoned their original “NoHo Square” development plans for the site in Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia.
It was also once hoped that, as developers decided what to do next, the land would become home to 800 temporary garden allotments, an idea spearheaded by former Bloomsbury councillor Rebecca Hossack.
This idea was scuppered when it was put up for sale and a new planning application submitted.
The scheme, expected to be completed in 2014, will include 210,000 sq ft of offices and 21,000 sq ft for shops and restaurants.
The designers are architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and Sheppard Robson.