Planning permission is now being sought to create what would be one of Fitzrovia’s largest restaurants. It would occupy the “retail” area next to the former hospital chapel, under the Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands designed office building near the Mortimer Street side of the site.
Cubitt House has existing pubs and hotels in Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Pimilico and Marylebone. They are proposing to call their 230 seat Fitzrovia restaurant Percy & Founders, named after the Duke of Northumberland (known as Percy) and who laid the foundation stone of the original Middlesex Hospital in 1755.
Percy & Founders “has a certain lightness of touch that will make everyone feel welcome”, says their brochure which is marked “Private & Confidential”. Sources close to the hospitality business have told us it is not literally private, but it is a marketing code for something exclusive.
The restaurant is intended to be of “distinctive quality” an “independent high-class operator”, modern and stylish, serving “locally, sustainably sourced and artisan-prepared ingredients”. But aside from all the marketing language there is no mention of what food is likely to be on the menu.
Planning consultants DP9 submitted an application this month on behalf of their clients to amend two conditions attached to a previous planning permission for the site. Westminster City Council is being asked to remove a condition that says no more than 499 square metres of the area identified as “retail” can be used for class A3 (restaurants).
The applicants also want to remove the condition limiting the operating hours of the restaurant. Currently permission does not allow customers to be on the premises before 8am and after 11.30pm Monday to Saturday and not before 10am and after 11pm on Sundays and bank holidays. The condition is there “to make sure that the use will not cause nuisance for people in the area”, according to the existing planning permission.
The applicants want to open at 7.30am and close at midnight Monday to Saturday, and open at 8am and close at 11pm on Sundays and bank holidays,
DP9 say that the restaurant will be “marginally beyond 499 square metres”. But the actual figure is an increase from 499 square metres to 688 square metres — an extra 189 square metres. It is not unusual for planning consultants to play fast and loose with language and numbers.
The management plan submitted with the application states that customers will enter and leave the restaurant from a single entrance along the pedestrianised walkway that leads through what will be called Pearson Square. The plan states that the nearest taxi drop off point is along Mortimer Street. No mention is made of customers using public transport, walking, or the availability of facilities for customers arriving by bicycle.
While residents living and working on site might benefit from it being closed to motor traffic, those in the homes and workplaces surrounding the site will be concerned about disturbance from taxis and mini-cabs, waiting, dropping off and collecting customers from such a large restaurant.
Fitzroy Place is being developed by Aviva Investments, Exemplar and Kaupthing. The mixed use development is being built by Sir Robert McAlpine and is due to be completed by September this year.
Westminster City Council was heavily criticised for accepting so little affordable housing on the site.