The Knightsbridge Estate occupies one of the most prestigious sites in London, the three-and-a-half-acre block that overlooks the junction of Sloane Street and Brompton Road, the bustling heart of Knightsbridge. To the east stands Harvey Nichols, to the west Harrods. The site has been an important part of the capital’s urban landscape since at least the latter half of the 18th century.
The extensive redevelopment and modernisation of the site by its owners The Olayan Group is now reaching completion. Masterminded by asset and development manager Chelsfield and architects Fletcher Priest, the redevelopment of the northern end is a mixed-use scheme that preserves the distinctive character of The Estate while delivering a brand new building meeting the needs and standards of modern occupiers.
It was an enormous and complex project on a constricted site in a conservation area in one of the busiest parts of London. The proximity of a network of subterranean tunnels and shafts belonging to London Underground provided a further, unavoidable complication. The pandemic imposed its own constraints on the developers’ freedom of action, not least the provision of a safe and regulation-compliant working environment, but despite these difficulties, the project is now coming to a triumphant conclusion.
Once completed, the development will offer seven flagship stores, a new roof-top restaurant and ground-level café, a Grade A office building, and 33 luxury apartments set around a private courtyard. These apartments will only be offered for rent, thereby increasing – albeit at a very high level – the local stock of rental property and contributing to its thriving community. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea planners were very supportive of the plans, a rarity for a scheme of this size.
The public benefits of the scheme are noteworthy. Enormous effort went into achieving maximum authenticity in the restoration of the 19th-century period facades that wrap around the development, a defining characteristic of the area. This included sourcing stone from the original quarries and accurately matching brick clays.
An essential element of the scheme was the relocation of the entrance to Knightsbridge underground station. Moving it 100 yards to the west on Brompton Road created a modern, more spacious station with, for the first time, step-free access to the platforms, while returning the ground floor of the building on Sloane Street to its original purpose as an eye-catching retail space. The widening of the pavement at the station’s entrance improves access and safety, especially at peak times.
The new retail spaces are served by subterranean service bays. This reduces traffic congestion, noise, and pollution in the area, while simultaneously improving efficiency and security for the retailers, a fine example of the all-round benefits of thoughtful, practical design, greatly increasing the amenity value of the scheme.
The Knightsbridge Estate is proud to have played such an important role in revitalising this historic and world-renowned part of London. Ultra-modern office, retail and residential space combined with greatly improved Underground access and painstakingly authentic restoration will benefit locals, residents and visitors alike. This sense of community goes to the heart of the modern, rejuvenated Estate.