Daunt Books Chelsea in redevelopment threat

Daunt Books Chelsea in redevelopment threat

Daunt Books in Chelsea may have to move temporarily after more than 10 years on the site if a planning application to redevelop the building block is granted tonight (8th March).

Landlords Imperial Tobacco Trustees have applied to overhaul Cavaye House, built in the seventies, in Fulham Road, London, which houses Daunt Books, formerly The Pan Bookshop.

The proposal has been recommended for approval by officers and Kensington and Chelsea councillors at are set to make a decision tonight to pass the plans, reported the London Evening Standard.

The application involves installing a branch of Cote Brasserie in a large ground-floor site, cutting the number of shop units from three to one.

Rose Cole, manager of Daunt Books in Chelsea, said that the current plans involve building right up to the pavement, which would force the popular shop to move for between nine months and a year.
 “We are in limbo at the moment,” she told The Bookseller. “The landlord wants to redevelop the building. If the plans are passed, they want to extend one building right out to the pavement, which would mean we would have to move for none months to a year at least because we can’t be in the property at that time. At the moment we do not know what is happening. We would love to stay, it was The Pan Bookshop before us and we don’t want our time here to end. Obviously if we move it will impact on revenue.”

She added: “We have been talking to the landlord all the time and I hope we can come to an agreement.”

James Daunt, who owns the six-strong bookselling mini-chain, said that while he didn’t know exactly what the plans entailed, he wasn’t in “panic mode yet” and bringing the frontage forward may actually benefit the shop.

“In theory we would just step aside for a while while the work was being done," he told The Bookseller. "We have a right to reoccupy so we would go back in, but we would end up with a narrower shop, which we prefer as booksellers, because we don’t like large frontages. It may reduce our “zone A” in the store and result in lower rent, which is music to my ears.”

He added: "Obviously we do not want to temporarily vacate and it would be a pain, but we are not in panic mode at this point."

Over 140 residents have objected to the proposals, including impressionist Rory Bremner, who wrote: “To close a unique and individual bookshop in favour of another chain restaurant in an area already full of restaurants and, in the process, build over one of the few areas of open pavement in quite a congested stretch of Fulham Road, is very unwelcome. The ‘piazza’ outside Daunt’s bookshop is a welcome bit of breathing space in a crowded row of shop fronts. What a shame to lose it. I urge you to resist the application, and hope that in so doing you will be preserving a little of the character of the area against further encroachment.”

A spokesman for the applicant added: “Although commercial tenants would be required to vacate during construction, the applicant has sought to retain long-standing tenants where possible, with an offer to return post-construction.”