The coming of Crossrail will bring changes to Fitzrovia. But it will simply be busier and more dynamic than it was before.
Of all the areas of London identified by historic names – Seven Dials, Bloomsbury, and Hoxton are but a few examples – Fitzrovia is the one which conjures up the charms of Regency London. Former Fitzrovia residents include such luminaries as the artist Ford Maddox Brown, the writer George Bernard Shaw, and Lord Salisbury, a former Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Although the area takes its name from Henry Fitzroy, the illegitimate son of Charles II, the name ‘Fitzrovia’ was coined by the regulars of The Fitzroy Tavern in the early part of the twentieth century.
However, times have changed, and Fitzrovia’s fortunes have changed with them. And now even greater changes are coming to the area in the form of a new rail link, otherwise known as Crossrail.
With the busy Euston road to its north side, Oxford Street and Soho on its southern border, and bustling Tottenham Court Road on its eastern side, this part of W1 is a relative oasis of calm.
Over the years, Fitzrovia has become home to many companies in the media industry. The area is also alive with restaurants, bars and bistros, all of which contribute to give Fitzrovia a particular charm. Some think this charm will disappear when Crossrail arrives. It is true that Crossrail will bring change to the area, but these changes will be for the better.
Tottenham Court tube station is to become one of the main stops on the Crossrail route. Its proximity to Fitzrovia will have a major impact on the area. This impact will be brought about by commercial development. Big names such as Facebook have decided to move their London headquarters to Rathbone Place, while Estee Lauder has opened its head office in Fitzroy Place.
Tottenham Court Road, already a major retail thoroughfare, is seeing huge developments that will make it even more attractive to shoppers.
Restaurants are also aware of how Crossrail will benefit Fitzrovia, with names such as Kau’Aina and Big Ferdinand staking their claims in Goodge Street and Percy Street.
Meanwhile Charlotte Street, considered by many to be the heart of Fitzrovia, is also undergoing a significant change. Number 80 Charlotte Street, once the head office of the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising empire, is now to be redeveloped. The new development will contain offices, residential homes and retail outlets. This will add to the vitality of Charlotte Street, a place that already enjoys a reputation as one of the best places in Fitzrovia to find good restaurants, bars, and nightlife.
The level of development and investment going into Fitzrovia demonstrates confidence in the area’s future. Predictions of the rise in property values as a result of Crossrail vary from 55% to 80%.
So change is afoot, but it will prove beneficial to those who live and work there. Fitzrovia won’t lose any of its charm either. Fitzroy Square, with its pedestrianised area and Regency-style houses, will still be there. As will Charlotte Street.