It’s been a quiet year for Arding & Hobbs. We have reported on the plans to redevelop our local landmark to modern offices, with a new two storey extension on the roof level; and the work now has full planning permission. But since then things have been distinctly quiet on the site with only minor surveying and exploratory work.
That doesn’t mean nothing is happening – we have been keeping an eye on the planning status, and the developers are gradually ploughing through the pre-construction requirements. One is doing a detailed survey of the current exterior of the building: what needs to be repaired and replaced, and where the restoration works can re-use existing material. The image above is taken from a survey that has been done for every window in the building, to see how they can be restored.
Plans have also gone in explaining how repairs will be made to the stonework, including repairing cracks and replacing bits that have become worn or damaged. It turns out that the landmark cupola, made mostly of Bath stone, also has some rather bodged repairs that were at some point done with modern cement, which will be replaced with stone. The brickwork will all be renovated – which in this case means taking out the crumbling mortar by hand and replacing it with new lime mortar, as well as removing patches of hard cement that were added in a slightly misguided previous renovation attempt. This will be based on a survey that was done of the external walls last year, as well as a more detailed look at the state of the brickwork once the necessary scaffolding is in place.
Speaking of scaffolding, a lot of it is going to be needed – and plans have been submitted showing how this will be installed, with an example of the scaffolding layout shown above. We presume at least part of the pavement canopy that runs round the building will be removed before the scaffolding goes up, as it is an awkward thing to scaffold round and (noting that the canopy is not origonal and was installed in the 1960s) it will in any case be removed as part of the renovation works.
The aim is to reuse and repair the original window frames wherever possible, some of which are clearly important to the character of the building. The survey of the current windows has identified what needs to be done to them to get them all back in business.
All in all – not a major update, but it’s good to see that work is slowly progressing. Developers W.Real Estate, who spend just under £50m buying the freehold of the building back when it was still trading as a Debenhams store, secured £55m in loan funding at the end of August from property fund manager BentallGreenOak to progress the redevelopment.
Our previous article includes many artists’ impressions from the planning process – but as a quick reminder we can expect to see a two-storey modern addition tot he roof, pictured below.
The interior will have shops on the ground floor and basement (with T K Maxx, who have a long lease, retaining their first floor section), and the rest converted to a large and modern office space. No news yet on occupiers, but from what we have seen in other nearby developments demand for higher-end office space is proving pretty robust (with the power station having let pretty much everything available, and several smaller new projects in Nine Elms and the inner suburbs also doing well) – and being opposite one of the best connected railway stations in the UK always helps – so the signs are good for fairly swift progress. More will be known once contracts for the works are let, though current reports suggest a target completion in late 2022.