Centre Point, the West End tower rarely far from controversy, has been touched by Crossrail magic. A start is due to be made on converting the Sixties office block into luxury apartments for millionaires next summer.
Despite thousands of objections, Camden council is tomorrow expected to give developer Almacantar and Frogmore permission to turn the tower into 82 flats.
The firm says it has spotted the potential in a block sitting above a rapidly regenerating area, where property values are set to rocket by 49 per cent in the next five years thanks to the planned opening of a new Crossrail station at Tottenham Court Road in 2018.
This application is a second try by the developers who saw their proposals thrown out last year in a row over the lack of affordable housing.
This week’s tweaked scheme includes 13 flats for first-time buyers, on the site of the Intrepid Fox pub, which it plans to replace with an 11-storey block, also containing shops and a restaurant or a bar.
The scheme is set for approval by council planners on Thursday July 4, despite more than 2,200 formal objections.
If the plans are approved, work (and probably off-plan sales with starting prices close to the £750,000 mark) will start in 2014, with the flats move-in ready in 2016.
The new 11-storey building is worrying Henrietta Billings, senior conservation officer at the 20th Century Society. She says: “The creation of what is really a new extension will have a negative impact on the architectural significance of the building by blocking interesting views of the tower which is Grade-II listed.”
And the Bloomsbury Baptist Church says it is a lost opportunity for more social housing.
Meanwhile, rock fans have gone into mourning over the loss of the Intrepid Fox. The council agrees that it is ‘well-loved’ but, having struggled to find tenants for Centre Point, they may love the new plans better.
A source close to the developer insisted it had been willing to build more affordable properties - albeit in a less expensive location - but the council was determined to have affordable homes on the Centre Point site.
Council officers support the plans to convert Richard Seifert’s 35-storey tower. The investment management firm Jones Lang LaSalle forecasts that there will be price growth of 49 per cent for prime new-build flats in the area over the next five years.