London Tesco to be replaced with office block and 'low cost' supermarket half the size

CGI of new supermarket on Dean Street
Dean Street is set to receive a new supermarket - but almost half the size of the Tesco's currently occupying the site -Credit:Orms Architects

A Tesco supermarket in Central London will be demolished and replaced with an office block and supermarket almost half the size under plans approved by Westminster City Council. Councillors said developers HECF Soho Limited had made “dramatic improvements” to the Dean Street and Soho Square scheme after refusing a similar design last year and voted unanimously to approve it during a planning meeting Tuesday evening (May 14).

Changes include carving out dedicated space for a supermarket to operate on ground level, lowering the height of the six-storey office block and keeping some of the original colour scheme. Committee chair Ruth Bush said “on balance” the flow of jobs being offered by the developer and dedicated space for a low-cost supermarket would benefit the community.

Cllr Paul Fisher went further suggesting it would be unreasonable to reject the application because it involved demolishing a 1930s Art Deco façade at 7 Soho Square. He said: “I cannot conceivably say that the demolition of that façade is to be stopped and in doing so, stop the development of Grade A office space, stop the protection of this use of an asset as a community value as a supermarket, prevent all the other public benefits we’ve heard, the sustainability benefits, and I think if I do reject this application, it would succeed before a planning inspectorate.

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CGI of Soho Square Development
The revised plans include keeping with the current colour layout -Credit:Orms Architects

"We are not the last stop for the applicant if they want to challenge this.” Councillors also agreed with Hines’ development director, Robbie Pitman, who was supporting the applicant, that the current Tesco ’s on 2-4 Dean Street was “over-spaced” and said the new but downsized supermarket space would be enough to meet community needs.

Cllrs also heard how Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s had already expressed an interest in the new space. Mr Pitman said: “Our proposal to condition the use of the unit to a food supermarket only will secure a supermarket at the site with greater long term certainty than the current [strategy]”.

The store was formally recognised as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) by Westminster City council following a nomination from the Soho Society in December, according to the council. The designation of the supermarket as an ACV means if the property it occupies goes up for sale, the community will be offered the chance to purchase it first. It will remain an ACV for five years.

The Tesco Express on Dean Street
The Tesco Express on Dean Street has been formally recognised as an Asset of Community Value -Credit:Google

Cllr Patrick Lilley, lead member for Soho, told MyLondon on Wednesday he was “thrilled” with the result. He said: “Residents as well as visitors and workers in Soho will still be serviced by an affordable supermarket for years to come. This was central to my own objection and I’m pleased it was addressed by all those concerned.”

In October, Westminster City councillors refused HECF Soho Limited’s proposals citing issues with the height and bulk of the development, which included a double-height bazaar and a terraced roof. The height of the current development has been reduced by half a metre and the terraced roof replaced with greenery.

The bazaar has also been removed in favour of supermarket space following an outcry from residents. The revised scheme includes 413m2 of store space, down from the current 766m2, council document’s show.

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