The Regent Palace Hotel was the largest hotel in Europe at the time of its completion in 1915 and quickly became a Soho landmark.

 

An early example of British art deco design, its neon lights lit up the heart of Piccadilly for over 90 years.

The view from Piccadilly Circus facing north in 2008 with demolition works getting underway.

In 2004 the building was granted heritage listing.      However that same year, owner Crown Estates put forward a £400m mixed use commercial office and retail scheme to replace it.

 

Although the application was ultimately rejected,      three years later they reapplied with a more modest proposal, including a small portion of facade retention.

Before and After: View from Sherwood Street in 2008 (left) and the current building in 2016 (right).

The UK Planning Policy Guidance on historic buildings (PPG 15) under which such proposals are assessed, states “the demolition of any Grade 1 or Grade 2 Historic building should be wholly exceptional and should require the strongest justification.” 

Furthermore it advises that “the secretaries of state would not expect consent to demolition to be given simply because redevelopment is economically more attractive to the developer than repair and re-use of a historic building.”

Before and After: View from Sherwood Street in 2008 (left) and the current building in 2016 (right).

Yet in their second application, Crown Estates cited the building's ‘poor condition’ and need for substantial repair works as justification for the demolition. 

 

Bizarrely, they also claimed the redevelopment would enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area,      by destroying it?

Before and After: View from Denman Street in 2008 (left) and the current building in 2016 (right).

Yet when the Westminster planning sub-committee met in December 2007 these misleading claims went unchallenged.

 

Instead committee members including Cllr. Robert Davis who acknowledged receiving ‘hospitality’              from the developer, agreed the benefits of the proposal outweighed the disadvantages of demolition.

Before and After: View from Sherwood Street in 2008 (left) and the current building in 2016 (right).

And with that, the Palace’s French baroque facade, listed for its “elaborate faience decoration intended to be enjoyed in detail”        was for the most part, demolished in early 2009.