BY OWEN SHEPPARD
BBC Local Democracy Reporter
The West End looks set to get its first rooftop garden with views over Soho Square, and could offer priority entry to residents.
It will be opened on top of a eight-storey office block that looks set to be built at the east end of Oxford Street, behind six shop fronts.
Two new cafes will be built in the development, with one facing the square and a second on the rooftop garden, which will have capacity for 200 people.
The offices, with 5,189 sq ft of floor space ―– the size of four Olympic swimming pools ―– will front onto the historic square, which dates back to 1681.
BCP Capital won planning permission for the scheme from Westminster council’s planning committee on Tuesday of last week.
At the meeting, the company’s chief executive, Nick Cullen, said the block would be built over an alleyway, Falconberg Mews, located between Oxford Street and Soho Square.
“Over the years Falconberg Mews has been notorious for antisocial behaviour, facilitated by its isolation, including violent crime and hard drug use, according to the Met,” Mr Cullen said.
The historic facades of several shops along Oxford Street will be preserved, including number 35, a Grade II-listed building with light green and cream-coloured Flemish
architecture. But buildings 41-43 will be destroyed to make way for new, modern shopfront.
This led to objections from the Soho Society and Historic England, who said pulling them
down would cause “unacceptable” harm.
A council planning officer told the committee: “The intention is no one will pay to use the rooftop garden. There will be a membership system so that you would book to use it.
“That’s to control how many people use it and when.
“The applicant [BCP] say they are amenable to priority being given to Soho residents.”
The committee chairman, Councillor Robert Rigby said: “I hear it will be the first publicly-available roof garden in the borough.”
Mr Cullen said demolition could begin in summer 2020, with completion by early 2023.