Speculation about the potential sale of Hyde Park Barracks for luxury apartments may rise again in the next few weeks, when a decision is expected about heritage listing.
Twenty major developers are rumoured to be interested in the prime Knightsbridge site, worth £600million, and some have already published their architectural vision. But there are complications.
First, any developer must find a convenient new central London home for the Household Cavalry’s 270 horses.
More recently, the 20th Century Society, an architectural pressure group, has applied for the barracks to have Listed status, from which the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has sought immunity.
A decision is expected soon as the Department of Culture, Media and Sport returned from the summer recess on Monday (7 September). The property belongs to the Crown Estate.
Society director Catherine Croft told H&H: “A successful listing does not mean that Hyde Park Barracks will remain at any cost. But it would mean that a debate can take place that takes into account heritage and social arguments as well as financial considerations.”
The barracks’ 33-storey residential block (pictured, above) was designed in 1970 by Sir Basil Spence but is unoccupied, and the MoD says it is not viable to refurbish (news, 25 April 2013).
Ms Croft disagreed: “The key feature of this tower is that it does not block views of the park. It would be relatively simple to convert.”
The Household Cavalry has daily duties as the Queen’s Life Guard.
So far, SD&B International is the only potential developer proposing to retain the stables as a working unit.
The MoD told H&H: “The eventual appointment of any development partner will be a competitive process, but the MoD is not yet in a position to begin this procedure.”
Dan Hughes, former commanding officer and now performance director at the British Equestrian Federation, told H&H: “The two most important aspects about plans to relocate the Household Cavalry are first welfare — that is making what is a 365-day a year commitment in central London tolerable to horses by providing sufficient exercise space, and an appropriate distance (not over 30 minutes) to Horse Guards parade.
“Secondly the safety aspects so as not to bring undue disruption to central London, or increase the security risk to horses and soldiers.”
Ref: H&H 10 September, 2015