BY OWEN SHEPPARD
Local Democracy Reporter
House of Fraser, once an “iconic” attraction in Oxford Street, is set to be part-converted into offices and a gym.
Publica Properties Limited submitted the plans for 318 Oxford Street, which was purpose built as a department store in 1937.
Under the proposal, 13,500sqm of new office space would take up sections of every floor, from the ground to its seventh.
This would still leave more than 15,800 sqm of retail space.
A large restaurant would also be built on the seventh floor, overlooking Oxford Street.
The building was the tallest in Oxford Street by 20ft when it was originally built by retailer DH Evans.
Inside, its escalator hall with pink marble walls and pillars formed a focal point.
In 2001, it rebranded as a House of Fraser, having been run by the Harrods Group since 1954.
A Westminster council report highlighted the “precarious situation” of House of Fraser, which surrendered a long lease on the property last year, in favour of a short one.
As a reason to support the redevelopment, the report said: “There is a real possibility that the unit may become vacant in the short to medium term.”
On Tuesday of last week, the council’s planning committee approved the scheme with a unanimous vote.
After the meeting, chairman of the committee, Councillor Robert Rigby, said: “Considering the state of the high street, it seemed the sensible thing to do.
“It’s such an iconic building, we want to see it brought back into proper use.”
There was no discussion at the meeting of whether House of Fraser or any other companies might occupy the finished building.
House of Fraser is owned by Mike Ashley, the boss of Sports Direct, who bought the department store chain last year for £90million while it was in administration. This included 63 sites with 59 stores.
In July this year, Mr Ashley warned the problems facing House Of Fraser “are nothing short of
terminal in nature”, the Daily Mail reported.
There have been mixed reports about Mr Ashley’s plans to close a number of House of Fraser stores across the country.
The Daily Telegraph reported earlier this month that Mr Ashley was negotiating new leases with landlords of many of the sites. House of Fraser was approached for comment but did not respond.