Harley Street poised for £80m makeover

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Harley Street, the exclusive enclave for private doctors in central London, is to have an £80m facelift.

The Howard de Walden Estate, which owns and manages nearly 92 acres stretching from Marylebone to Portland Place, has agreed a joint venture with one of London's biggest private hospitals, the London Clinic, to build a new, five-storey facility.

It is understood that the estate will invest around £25m in the project. The London Clinic, which is on Harley Street, will put in some £50m.

Most of Harley Street and the surrounding streets are in a conservation area. However, the earmarked site is just outside this, and the estate is planning to knock down buildings and construct one modern facility in their place. The Cancer Centre will then be linked to the London Clinic by two underground tunnels.

Simon Bayham, the estate's managing director, said there had been a "long, long planning consultation" but was hopeful that final approval would be given as early as this week.

The building project is predicted to last three years, though Mr Bayham said he thought that was "optimistic", pointing out that if new medical equipment came on to the market during that time, the plans might have to be redrawn. However, he added: "When it is built, it is going to be an amazing facility."

Between 1910 and 1930, a number of the area's Georgian buildings were sold off on long leases, many of which went to landlords who failed to keep the properties in good condition. But in recent years the estate has been buying back leases across the area, which boasts 1,500 doctors and dentists.

"Harley Street has such a great brand name and has held on to that despite the lack of strategy and poor condition," said Mr Bayham. "There's a great future in private medicine and, because of that, Harley Street has a great future if it's managed in the right way."