United House/Soho Housing
City of London Corporation
Once a bank, this Grade II-listed building had become used as a ‘Foyer’ facility, providing 27 bedsits for people emerging from homelessness. Funding had ended in 2012.
Owners and affordable housing providers Soho Housing Ltd saw an opportunity to reinvest funds elsewhere by converting the upper floors of the building to 17 prime residential apartments.
The practice had to make the argument to the local authority, the City of London, that the lawful use had been residential. It also presented challenges in converting a listed historic building that had been insensitively altered before, with internal features stripped out and intrusive partitions cutting across original windows.
The new apartments were formed with minimal loss to the building’s original fabric and the beautifully detailed staircase and lobby, to regain the building’s historic integrity, while the issue of meeting housing targets was managed by the creation of affordable housing off-site. Finally, as West Smithfield is close to Grade I-listed Great St Bartholomew church grounds, the scheme provided improvements for its historic neighbour. It now sits in the heart of the City’s residential growth area.