Derwent London, the property development company who eleven years ago said “we want to get rid of the idea that we will come in and knock everything down”, is planning to knock down yet another large building, adding to the pile of rubble it has already trucked out of Fitzrovia.

View of building on street corner.
The Network Building on the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Howland Street. Photo: Fitzrovia News.

Derwent plans to raze to the ground its Network Building on the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Howland Street and construct a new block nearly twice the size of the existing block, stopping-up the south entrance to Cypress Place, and towering over the neighbouring Qube building to the north and Arup Phase 2 building to the west.

In a blunt touch of irony Derwent have employed architects Piercy and Co — who have taken the Architects Declare pledge and backed Architects Journal’s RetroFirst campaign to refurbish and not to demolish buildings — to design the new building.

A public online exhibition of the outline plans has been published ahead of a planning application due to be submitted to Camden Council in November.

Illustration of proposed commercial building.
New office and retail space is planned at the Network Building, 95-100 Tottenham Court Road. Image: Derwent London.

Derwent says its plans for 95-100 Tottenham Court Road “offers an excellent opportunity to significantly improve the conditions of the site by providing a modern commercial building that is fit for contemporary workplace practices. The proposals will also create high-quality retail space fronting Tottenham Court Road that is in keeping with one of London’s most popular retail destinations”. Derwent says it aims to be carbon neutral by 2030.

The new building will increase the floorspace from around 9,000 square metres to about 16,000 square metres, and will be purely commercial. Seven private flats in the neighbouring Qube building — which Derwent also owns — with be removed as part of the redevelopment.

The flats will be relocated as “intermediate affordable housing” at a former NHS site in Tottenham Mews which will have 23 flats in total including ten for social rent, and nearly 400 square metres of affordable commercial space. The building will feature solar panels on the roof and have a rainwater attenuation system.

Location map showing proximity of two construction sites,
Location map of the Network Building and Tottenham Mews sites. Image: Derwent London.

A pedestrian and cycle link will be created connecting Tottenham Mews to Bedford Passage (currently being built) and to Cleveland Street and Charlotte Street.

However, there is no public open space included in the proposals which should usually be required from developments this large. Instead, private amenity space is proposed on the roof of the Network Building for employees, and on terraces at the intermediate affordable housing at Tottenham Mews for its residents.

Derwent says the existing underground car park vents at the Network site will be removed from Whitfield Street and Howland Street giving a wider pavement in front of the commercial building. Trees and rain gardens are also proposed in front of the building.

However, local community group the Charlotte Street Association has criticised the Network Building proposals for being too bulky for the narrow Whitfield Street and that the social housing offered at Tottenham Mews is of very poor quality.

The CSA says that some of the detailed design on the Network site has merit but that the size of the development and its non-compliance with Camden’s mixed-use policy (the lack of any housing on the site) means that Camden’s planners should reject it.

Illustration of housing in mews.
An illustration of how affordable housing and workspace would look in Tottenham Mews. Image: Derwent London.

The CSA says that residents in the social housing offered at ground and first floor at Tottenham Mews will suffer from the close proximity to their windows of a neighbouring building mere metres away to the west because of a of lack of visual amenity and a lack of privacy. They also say the location of bedrooms on the ground floor right next to the covered pedestrian passageway is not appropriate.

Derwent London will be hosting a live webinar on 13 October 2020 to give people an opportunity to view the proposals and ask questions to the project team. Pre-planning application public consultation documents: Network Building and Tottenham Mews.