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How Victoria Street evolved from retail thoroughfare to London’s buzziest social hub

Charlotte Roberts


Victoria Street has experienced a metamorphosis in recent years. Take a wander down there today and you’ll discover a bustling hub of restaurants and bars, packed in among some of the capitals most in-demand ‘competitive socialising’ venues.  Recent crowd -drawing openings include Lane 7 and The Alchemist, joining the likes of Stix and Sushi, Timmy Green and Casa da Frango.Victoria Street’s position as one of the capital’s major social hubs will be cemented with this week’s first UK opening of the luxurious Parisian entertainment group BAM Karaoke Box. Housed in an incredible 10,000 square foot site with 22 private karaoke rooms, food from renowned chef Sabrina Gilda (ex Dorchester) and the uber-cool Bam Bam Bar, BAM is set to raise the bar not just for entertainment, but the whole hospitality and leisure scene in Victoria.

So how has Victoria Street transformed into a target for the world’s most innovative hospitality and leisure operators in the space of a few years?

The first major driver of change has come from an evolving office space landscape. According to the latest London Markets report, serviced offices account for 169,340 square foot in Victoria. But the occupancy of these offices has developed – once almost exclusively the home of civil servants, the area now hosts professional service companies and brands ranging from Bloomberg to Burberry. These businesses and their well paid staff represent a lot of valuable footfall – a fact not missed by hospitality and leisure brands.

Another key development for Victoria over the past 5 years has been transport. The £700 million Victoria Station Upgrade has improved links and ease navigating the area, with 45 million taps annually (April 2022-Mar 2023). With three tube lines, lots of bus routes and a revamped busy national station hosting the Gatwick Express, SW1 can now legitimately claim to be one of the best connected areas of London.

The shift in shopping patterns seen across London has also played a key role in the area’s changing dynamic. The demise of House of Fraser and closure of major fashion retailers in Victoria such as Hugo Boss are representative of the changing landscape for London’s retail picture – and highlight the potential opportunity for F&B and leisure.

We have managed Victoria Street for our client Landsec over the past decade. The launch of Nova  – the mixed use, three building development occupying the island site opposite Victoria station – in 2017 kick started the area’s F&B transformation, with The Rail House Café, Sticks n Sushi and Greenwood among the first lettings to draw the crowds.  A further vote of confidence came in the shape of The Ivy, which took over the former Jamie’s Italian site further down Victoria Street. High confidence in the wider area is also evident from Grosvenor’s reimagining of Belgravia and Buckingham Palace Road, and more recent investment from GAW Capital. But from a leisure perspective, it was the arrival and subsequent huge success of Flight Club in 2019 that provided the major endorsement to leisure brands looking for a central London location.

So where has this evolution left SW1?  Today, Victoria Street and the entire Nova development is fully let to a variety of premium leisure and hospitality operators. Lane 7 have opened with great success in the site adjacent to BAM, creating a footfall-driving entertainment hub. This – along with upcoming hospitality opportunities from the Portland House and Nova 2 redevelopment – make it clear that Victoria has a secure future as one of London’s top leisure and F&B destinations.

Charlotte Roberts is Head of London Retail at Bruce Gillingham Pollard.

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