Recommendation comes despite opposition from Historic England and Save Britain’s Heritage

DSDHA-designed proposals to redevelop a former hotel in Bloomsbury with a mixed-use scheme featuring a 19-storey office tower and 44 homes are being recommended for approval by Camden Council planners.

The practice’s current proposals for client BC Partners are the third incarnation of the One Museum Street scheme, earmarked to replace a 17-storey former Travelodge hotel and car park – as well as other nearby buildings – in the Bloomsbury Conservation Area.

DSDHA’s 0.53ha plans include 22,650sq of office space in the tower. Meanwhile, three six-storey buildings and one five-storey building would deliver new homes and contribute towards around 1,600 sqm of space for “town centre uses” such as food-and-beverage retail.

Buildings in New Oxford Street and Museum Street will be refurbished to provide housing and commercial space at lower levels. The latest version of the plans remove extensions designed for 11-12 Museum Street and 35 and 37 New Oxford Street, which were listed at grade II earlier this year.

DSDHA’s earlier One Museum Street proposals were originally lodged in 2021 and featured a 21-storey tower at the junction of High Holborn and Museum Street, where the 1960s-designed former Travelodge currently stands. The original incarnation of the scheme put apartments on the highest levels of the building.


Source: DSDHA

The 2023 version of DSDHA’s Bloomsbury proposals

The scheme attracted criticism from government heritage adviser Historic England, which said the tower would have a “major, harmful impact” on Bloomsbury Conservation Area and “exacerbate the incongruous backdrop” already created by the 1960s hotel building, named Selkirk House.

An appraisal of the 2021 proposals by sustainability guru Simon Sturgis’ Targeting Zero consultancy calculated that demolishing Selkirk House would result in “approximately 64,000 tonnes of unnecessary carbon emissions over the next 60 years”.

The document, created for the Save Museum Street group and Climate Emergency Camden said the project would also generate a “significant amount” of unnecessary waste.

Selkirk House High Holborn

Source: Google Maps

Selkirk House seen from High Holborn, the southern perimeter of DSDHA’s redevelopment proposals

Historic England still objects to the latest proposals because of harm to designated heritage assets and the tower’s impact on and longer-range views. The Georgian Group and the Victorian Society also oppose the latest version of the plans.

Save Britain’s Heritage objects to the proposals because of the impact of the tower element – which is 20m higher than the existing tower – and also what it described as the scheme’s “substantially harmful and disproportionate” carbon cost.

Recommending the DSDHA proposals for approval, Camden Council planning officers acknowledged concerns about the scheme’s impact on views and nearby historic buildings – as well as their environmental impact.


Source: DSDHA

The High Holborn block that forms part of DSDHA’s 2023 Bloomsbury proposals

However they said the harm would be “less than substantial” in the language of the government’s National Planning Policy Framework, and that scheme’s benefits outweighed the identified harms.

“The scheme would deliver substantial land use, employment and economic benefits, including housing and affordable housing,” officers said. “The design of the new buildings is high quality architecture. The public realm improvements and new route are also substantial benefits.

“Taking account of the policies of the development plan and all material planning considerations, including the representations made by local residents, the proposals are considered acceptable.”


Source: DSDHA

Officers added that consideration had been given to a requirement for the existing Selkirk House buildings – which were once the national headquarters of hotel group Trusthouse Forte – to be reused.

They said substantial works would be required to bring the building up to modern hotel standards and that comprehensive redevelopment – except for the building’s basements, which are being retained for the DSDHA scheme – was “the most efficient use” of the land.

As well as DSDHA, BC Partners project team for One Museum Street includes development manager Simten, project manager and cost manager Gardiner & Theobald, structural engineer Heyne Tillett Steel, and transport, wind, flood risk and CMP consultant Arup.


Source: DSDHA

DSDHA’s proposals, seen from New Oxford Street

Camden Council’s Planning Committee meets to consider the application at 7pm on Thursday.

Any decision will be referred to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan because of the scale of the development.