Landmark 20th Century Fox building in London facing new threat

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  • June 1, 2020
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The distinctive building in Soho Square will be almost entirely demolished if developers’ proposals succeed in gaining planning consent

Part of Soho history … the 20th Century Fox Film building, Soho Square, London, pictured in 2011.
Photograph: Plamen Peev/Alamy Stock Photo

Twentieth Century Fox’s former HQ faces the threat of imminent demolition after developers submitted a new set of plans, it has been revealed.

Situated in London’s Soho Square, in the heart of the capital’s traditional film-making district, the distinctive building housed the UK arm of the Hollywood studio from its construction in 1937 until Disney purchased the studio’s parent company 21st Century Fox in March 2019.

The building, known as Twentieth Century House, was swiftly sold to Royal London Asset Management in May 2019 for £75m, who subsequently applied for planning permission to demolish the building. However, after a campaign supported by Paul McCartney, Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, director Mike Leigh, and A Private War star Rosamund Pike, Royal London submitted revised plans in March that retain part of the facade.

Tim Lord, chair of the Soho Society, told Screen: “This 1930s building has deep associations with the film industry and Soho’s heritage and sits well in one of London’s oldest squares, which contains 16 listed buildings including Soho’s only Grade 1 building, the House of St Barnabas.”

A string of objections have been made on Westminster Council’s website, but the Soho Society are urging more to be registered before the deadline on 2 June.

Film producer Colin Vaines, founder member of Save Soho, added: “The basic issue here is that the existing building from 1937 fits perfectly in the square, has historic links to Soho history with the film business, and could be refurbished for future requirements (and who knows what they will be in a post Covid-19 world?).”

The Soho Society has also raised concerns over the fate of the distinctive lettering over the building’s portico, which appeared to have been removed without permission. However the well-known neon company sign, which was fixed to the building’s roof, is now in Disney’s archive.