A proposed office redevelopment in the centre of London could see a 10th-floor public roof garden opened right next to Oxford Street.
The site, called One Chapel Place, is two separate offices that sit next to each other just behind the small block of shops that fill the gap between the old Debenhams and House of Fraser stores, and the developer plans to replace them with a single larger office block.
The replacement building is significantly taller but manages to shrink the effect by the use of double-height window bays and an elevated ground floor with the now achingly fashionable curved scollop recesses.
They’ve calculated that the environmental impact of a rebuild is lower than a refurbishment mainly due to the much better performance they can extract from a modern building, although when calculated over the average 60-year lifespan of an office block, it’s a pretty close call, so I’d say that either option is still in consideration.
While the proposals include improving the around the ground level where there’s an existing small public pedestrian space, the main attraction is likely to be the proposed roof terrace.
From the concept images — as they are just concepts at this stage, albeit based on previous feedback — the roof terrace will be mainly paved with raised planters, and a glass wall around the edge will let you see out over central London.
A glass wall is a nice idea as even a single sheet of glass, so long as its head height can block a lot of noise. I was once so surprised at how much noise is blocked when on another terrace and borrowing a builder’s ladder to get a few feet higher and the street noise jumps sharply when above the glass level.
Access to the roof terrace will be through a separate entrance from the main office building, so less likely to be a security issue. A nice touch is that the entrance isn’t hidden around the back of the building, but is right next to the expanded plaza area and so much more obvious as a thing to visit.
You won’t be able to see over Oxford Street itself as the building is set slightly back and the roof terrace will mainly face north. But that’ll still give good views across the Marylebone area.
The intention is that the roof terrace will be open Monday to Friday, with a preference for prebooked visits, although walk-ins will be accepted.
An unanswered question as that’ll be something to be negotiated by the council is what access conditions will apply. The plans show a roof terrace with no facilities other than a toilet and a drinks kiosk, so it’s not somewhere they could easily use for corporate events, but the planning documents do include an option for it to be rented out to office tenants and local organisations in the evenings after it closes to the public.
The specifics will come out when the application goes before the councillors for approval.
If planning permission is granted, it won’t be a quick build as the existing office tenant’s lease doesn’t expire until 2028. Unless they decide to break the lease early, and there’s no indication of that, then construction can’t start until they leave.
It’s expected therefore that the new roof garden would open around the middle of 2031.
Bit of a wait then, but London does look likely to be getting another roof terrace, and baring the occasional opening of the John Lewis roof garden, this part of London’s first permanent public roof terrace.