Fulham Town Hall to Become "Lifestyle Emporium"

Surprise announcement of sale to American group

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Fulham Town Hall will be turned into a "lifestyle emporium" including shops, a restaurant and new homes after Hammersmith and Fulham Council agreed to sell the Fulham Road building to American leisure and retail group Dorey Ventures.

The news comes as a surprise, because until now the favourite of the two short-listed options appeared to be to convert the landmark Grade II listed Victorian building into a luxury hotel.

Despite being an American group, Dory Ventures, which owns Maclaren, the children’s product brand is promising to create a "quintessentially British lifestyle emporium".

The emporium will include a flagship Maclaren showroom, plus a number a boutique shops and will also feature Dory’s Laser Performance sailing dinghies and Albert Thurston brands.

The building will also house a restaurant, and the upper floors will be extended and converted to provide 15 new homes.

In order to respect the Town Hall’s heritage and ensure ongoing public access to the building, Dory proposes to maintain the former Council Chamber as an "educational bar" where there will be public interest and safety demonstrations of Maclaren products, and community events and lectures.

The council says it teamed up with agents Lambert Smith Hampton to commission a report assessing the retail viability of the building and the retail market demand in Fulham. It says the results indicate there is very real potential to grow retail in the town centre, and build on the destination attraction that Maclaren will create.

Cllr Nick Botterill, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, says: "This exciting and innovative scheme will provide Fulham Town Hall with a new lease of life, while respecting the building’s rich historical character and public heritage.

"We are confident that this scheme will reinvigorate Fulham, improve the council’s finances by significantly reducing our debt levels, create numerous jobs and launch a new era of prosperity for this famous building."

However, the announcement comes at a time when several prominent businesses around Fulham Broadway have been forced to close, most notably UNION Market directly across the road, plus restaurant My Dining Room in Farm Lane and coffee shop The Shed in Walham Grove. In nearby Kings Road, Spanish restaurant La Rueda is currently closed and the Morrison Bar remains boarded up.

Dory Ventures must now obtain both planning permission and Listed Building Consent for its proposed scheme.


February 24, 2012