London car park of "sublime beauty" at risk of demolition


A monumental car park building close to London's Oxford Street is being sold, meaning it could now be demolished to make way for a new hotel.

Featuring an elaborate facade of prefabricated concrete diamonds, the Welbeck Street car park was once selected by architect and Dezeen columnist Sam Jacob as one of the most important unsung buildings in the capital.

But the Brutalist-era building is now being sold to developer Shiva Hotels in a reported £100 million deal, putting it at risk of demolition.

The 1970s structure had recently been denied a listing from government heritage body Historic England, and was put up for sale by previous owner LaSalle Investment Management shortly afterwards.

London car park of "sublime beauty" at risk of demolition
Welbeck Street car park was designed by Michael Blampied and Partners in 1971 for department store Debenhams. Photograph by Artur Salisz

The site had been valued at £30 million at the end of 2014. But a recent report from property company Pastor Real Estate named it as one of 18 London car park sites with potential to increase in value by 300 per cent.

"The car park on Welbeck Street provides an annual return of £109.5 million for its 360 spaces, whilst a residential scheme located on the prime Marylebone site has the potential to be worth £406 million," reads the report.

Designed by architecture office Michael Blampied and Partners, the multi-storey car park was built in 1971 by department store Debenhams to serve shoppers to its flagship Oxford Street store.

Jacob – who nominated the car park for the Design Museum's Lesser Known Architecture show in 2013 – described the building as "simultaneously practical and symbolic".

"Its rawness casts it as part of the infrastructural landscape: highway engineered into vertical stack. But here infrastructure is handled with such delicacy that all its rawness is elevated to sublime beauty," he said.

Shiva Hotels develops and manages UK hotels for brands including as Hilton, Best Western and Holiday Inn.

The building is currently let to car park operator NCP until 2021, but there is believed to be a break clause in the contract that would allow Shiva to redevelop before then. According to a sales brochure, a 145-room hotel could be built in its place.

  • GJ

    Ooo, look at that sexy facade.

  • chrislondon

    Sad news, but a little hint to the future buyer, retain the facade.

  • You need to take a long hard look at what you call “sublime” and “beauty”. Even if some part of the facade should probably survive.

  • spadestick

    That brown brick vertical strip split killed it.

  • Matthew James Martin

    I’d like to hope that the buyer wouldn’t be foolish enough to destroy the facade during conversion.

  • Jonathan Tuffin

    I know this car park. I have never been struck by its sublime beauty.

  • Guillaume

    Where’s Zaha? This is something she can handle.

  • V So

    Nothing to see here. Car hotel gives way to man hotel.

  • JayCee

    Listing a car park is always a hard sell, especially those located in such an area of extremely high land values. Personally, as a closet Brutalist, I have always loved this building. It will be a shame to see it gone and replaced by what will undoubtedly be a mediocre effort of a replacement.

  • H-J

    That vertical brick part already did more damage than any sledge hammer or wrecking ball can do.