Early records (c.1655) identify the site as part of ‘Palmer’s village’, a small village that maintained a rural charm amid cramped inner-city developments. The village green was used for many functions including a May-pole in spring. Surrounding the green was a boy’s school, almshouses, and an inn.
Much of Victoria was rebuilt between the 1850s through to 1880 and included the opening of Victoria Station in 1861. The landmark ‘Army & Navy Store’ opened on the site now known as Southside, 101–105 Victoria Street, in 1872. The store consisted of a collection of smaller amenity uses including a grocers, tailors, drapers, chemist and bank. Victoria has continued to evolve, particularly since the 1950s with the opening of new office and retail space. The original Army & Navy store was demolished in the 1970s with the current department store/office complex of Southside opening its doors in 1977. The department store became part of the the ‘House of Fraser’ chain in 2005. The designation of the Victoria Opportunity Area in 2011 provided a further catalyst for change, with the transformation of the north side of Victoria Street, Cardinal Place and Nova.
The nature of retail is changing. Large department stores are less attractive to operators and shoppers alike. Following the collapse into administration and subsequent restructure of ‘House of Fraser’, there is a break clause in the lease for the current department store in Summer 2022. This date also aligns with the upper floor office tenancies coming to an end. In addition, we have identified a number of other issues that need to be responded to and addressed:
The current ground floor level is not clearly visible, with numerous blank and inactive frontages which encourage anti-social behaviour around the site (as highlighted in the Cathedral Area Action Plan);
The nature of office work is changing and this building does not fit the criteria sought by businesses seeking new office space, in part due to the lack of natural light and excessive number of columns and poor floor to ceiling heights
Inflexible floorplates due to the structural column grid and a limited number of lifts all arriving at one end of the floorplate
Existing building servicing/plant equipment is largely that from the 1970s and now beyond its lifespan, inefficient and in need of a total overhaul
The existing building has extremely poor energy efficiency, with a substandard ‘Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)’ rating of ‘E’
There is a large concrete slab located above the House of Fraser store, on which the office floors are laid, which also inhibits a refurbishment
As a result, the existing building does not support the current and future needs of its occupants. We have been committed to working with the local community on our design and consultation processes for the redevelopment of Southside, 101-105 Victoria Street. We will continue to engage with the local community and stakeholders after we submit a planning application to Westminster City Council.
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