Plans by The Cavendish Hotel to create two shops on the corner of Duke Street and Jermyn Street in central London, forcing tapestries and textiles specialist S Franses to leave the premises, has led the two parties to court.
S Franses, which also houses a tapestry archive, has operated from the gallery for more than 25 years. Its 15 year lease came to an end last year and landlord the Cavendish Hotel, run by The Ascott Limited which is a subsidiary of Singapore’s CapitaLand, planned to redevelop the gallery into two shops.
The plans received more than 50 objections and were withdrawn.
However now a court case related to S Franses’s application to renew its lease is heading to the Royal Courts of Justice on January 16. The case, to be heard at Central London County Court, centres on whether under the Landlord and Tenant Act a request for a new lease can be refused.
Special Policy Area
S Franses hopes Westminster City Council’s new planning policy, called Special Policy Areas which came into effect last year, will protect it. The policy gives planning protection against redevelopment to protect traditional businesses – including tailors and art galleries – in areas such as Cork Street, Savile Row, and St James’s.
S Franses director Simon Franses, grandson of founder Sidney, said: “CapitaLand seem unaware that this is the heart of the St James’s art district, the world’s greatest concentration of art expertise. It always seemed irrational to try to replace us with fashion outlets, which are against the council’s stated policy. Any replacement would now be limited to art, antique or bespoke, and would pay an equivalent rent to us.”
Franses said he is also in talks to create a St James’s Art District Association with other galleries in the area.
A spokeswoman for Ascott said it cannot comment on the case until the litigation has been concluded but confirmed S Franses’s lease came to an end and an application for renewal is the subject of court proceedings.