London’s first subterranean healthcare destination

Reef’s Chief Executive Stewart Deering talks to the Harley Street Area Partnership about developing London’s first subterranean healthcare destination.

Tell us a bit about your development at Cavendish Square

I’m sure many people will know of Cavendish Square which is located just behind John Lewis on Oxford Street at the entrance to Harley Street. One of London’s original Georgian squares, the space beneath is currently a car park. Working in conjunction with Westminster City Council we obtained planning consent for a mixed-use redevelopment and are committed to delivering a world first health and wellbeing focussed destination.

Aimed at the $4.5trillion global health and wellbeing industry and leveraging the site’s unique location, the scheme will deliver much-needed specialist facilities for both the public healthcare sector (with the ability to accommodate multiple medical providers and NHS trusts) London’s private healthcare market, which has doubled in size in 10 years.

Cavendish Square will be one of the West End’s largest developments, with individual floors of up to 80,000 sq ft, totalling 280,000 sq ft across the four below ground storeys. Above the development, Cavendish Square Gardens provides a natural extension of the space and a physical embodiment of the scheme’s vision – a wellbeing ecosystem in the heart of London.

Unrivalled access to public transport brings 8.5 million within 60 minutes of the site which will link three of London’s most iconic addresses: Harley Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street.

With a strong focus on healthcare how does the sites location adjacent to Harley Street help?

Cavendish Square was originally conceived as an anchor to the residential streets around Harley Street. The development will restore this link. The development will also expand the footprint of the Harley Street Medical Area and complement the independent healthcare services available there.

Harley Street is one of the best-known hubs for independent healthcare in the UK and internationally. The site will also be highly accessible, located between Oxford Street, Harley Street and Regent Street, and with easy access to the future Elizabeth Line via Bond Street.

What are your designs influences for Cavendish Square?

Designed by our in-house studio UrbanR and working with a world-class design team, including Gensler, Arup and Sonnemann Toon, our aim is to create a Centre of Excellence for Healthcare and Wellbeing enhancing the reach and relevance of the Harley Street Medical Area. Designed to suit a range of uses, the large lateral floorplates with 4m floor heights on four levels are perfect for today’s medical requirements.

Wellbeing and sustainability were key in influencing the design, with glazed lanterns at street level, light wells and internal atria drawing natural light to the floors below. Targeting Net Zero Carbon in operation, the existing structure will be repurposed and extended. At street level, the Georgian gardens will be re-landscaped increasing the public realm space by 100% within its perimeter. Statement entrances to Harley Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street will enhance the public space and complete the development.

How has COVID impacted your development?

In March 2020 the world as we knew it ceased to exist, our daily routines were turned upside down and the world’s attention was focused on COVID-19. No one could foresee the sheer magnitude of what was coming, how long it would last and what the long-term impact would be.

And whilst Covid-19 may have disrupted our lives, it is also driving demand for new types of healthcare buildings and accelerating the adoption of digital enhancements that are more attuned to modern life. As people increasingly focus on their wellbeing and we see a shift towards more preventative healthcare we look forward to bringing the Cavendish Square opportunity to life and delivering healthcare provision for the future.