Shopping centre's owners say they are reacting to changes in the market
Picture: House of Fraser
The giant House of Fraser at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherd’s Bush will be turned into offices.
A planning application by the centre’s owners, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, was approved by Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s Planning Committee on July 21.
It comes after Debenhams permanently moved out of the 12-year-old shopping centre in April.
Under the plans, about two-thirds of House of Fraser’s shop floorspace will be turned into offices – an area nearly as big as a football pitch.
Some of the House of Fraser will become two separate retail units that will face the inside of the centre. The office entrance will front on to ‘Eat Street’, by Shepherd’s Bush Station.
A small section of the office space, which covers three storeys, will also be let at a 35 per cent discount to entice start-up companies.
House of Fraser is owned by billionaire Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct.There was speculation that more of London’s department stores could follow a similar path, as high streets continue to battle against online shopping and the impact of coronavirus.
At the Planning Committee, Conservative councillor Matt Thorley suggested the council should do all it can to allow landlords to turn empty shops into offices as quickly as possible.
“I hope the authority is as supportive as it can be to allow retailers to change use classes as and when they see fit to adapt to ever-changing market conditions,” said Mr Thorley, who also works in commercial property.
James Huish from Montagu Evans, speaking on behalf of Westfield, said: “Town Centres are currently undergoing a period of dramatic change and the applicant is proactive to reacting to changes in the market and ensuring the longevity of the area and the town centre.”
There were no public objections to the plans.
The application was voted through unanimously by the Planning Committee’s members.
The plans would not change the external structure of the centre and the company has agreed that 33 jobs will go to residents from the borough.
Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter
July 29, 2020