Blackfriars scheme to give 1950s block a facelift and replace a pub

HOK’s plans to partially demolish and refurbish a 1950s office block near Blackfriars station have been unanimously approved by the City of London.

The plans for Belgian developer Atenor were approved yesterday and will see the eight-storey Fleet House given a facelift while an adjacent pub on the site, St Bride’s Tavern, will be demolished and replaced.

Around two thirds of the office block will be retained with the refurb set to provide 7,200sq m of office space, cycle parking and four external terraces, three of which will have views of St Paul’s Cathedral.

However, HOK’s plans to demolish the pub, also built in the 1950s, have been the subject of some controversy. Objections received during consultations included concerns that its historical, cultural and social value would be lost if it was replaced by a modern building.

City of London councillor Martha Grekos said the pub was “part of the fabric” of Fleet Street and “sustains and enhances the area with its unique charm and character”.

Grekos, who is also a planning lawyer, said: “Economically, the pub is doing very well, socially it is the ‘glue’ for the locals and culturally it adds value because of this and caters for social wellbeing and social interest, rather than just another chain coffee shop filling up the area.”

HOK pub 2

St Brides Tavern was built in the 1950s. Fleet House can be seen on the right of the pub.

However, HOK said in planning documents that the redevelopment would create a “larger, more inclusive and safer” pub than the current premises. It would be housed across two storeys including an “active and generous” double-height ground floor with large amounts of daylight, the practice said.

The plans replace a former consented scheme by Perkins & Will which was approved in 2015 and would have seen the entire site including the office building flattened and replaced with a new build block.

Atenor UK director Eoin Conroy said the scheme, which has been designed to achieve a minimum of BREEAM Excellent, reflects the firm’s “belief that the adoption of sustainable practices at the design and construction phases is both the right thing to do and will make this building more appealing to future occupiers”.

HOK design principal David Weatherhead added the design provides a “vast array” of public benefits, including a new passageway linking Bridewell Place and Bride Lane.

Fleet House was acquired by Atenor in April and is its first project in London. Other members of the team include cost consultant Core 5, project manager 3PM, structural engineer AKT II and M&E consultant Hoare Lea.

HOK pub

HOK’s plans for the replacement pub