The Denmark Street Conservation Area covers Denmark Street and its immediate environs, including Centre Point. Denmark Street is famous for its association with the music industry, with its built fabric being strongly reminiscent of ‘old London’ with narrow roads and characterful buildings. In recent years however the area has been controversially redeveloped, eroding the essential character of the area.
Threat Level: Substantial
The area’s essential character has been eroded by inappropriate development around Tottenham Court Road station in line with Crossrail. Many buildings have already been demolished, and the increase in rents has forced out many businesses associated with the music industry.
History of Designation
The area was initially designated as part of the Bloomsbury Conservation area in 1984, and after subsequent extensions in 1990 and 1991 the area became its own Conservation Area.
The area around Denmark Street began to be developed during the 1600s, after the land had been seized by the Crown half a century earlier and later given away or sold. Denmark Street itself was home to twenty houses by 1691, some of which survive, of great historical interest as a rare survival of housing in London from the time.
The area of Denmark Street, as a part of St Giles’, became associated with poverty and squalor throughout the Georgian Period. Similar to the nearby Seven Dials, the area became increasingly commercialised with ground floors being converted into shops. Houses were split into lodgings, or even workshops. The area of St Giles became associated with music printing towards the end of the Victorian Era, and by the twentieth century Denmark Street’s premises were mostly used by music publishers, the street becoming known as ‘Tin Pan Alley’.
As music publishing fell out of popularity, publishers moved out from Denmark Street but its association with the music industry remained, becoming home to shops selling instruments and records, and recording studios used by famous names such as The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. A small number of music-related businesses remain, but increases in rent coupled with a change in population and commercial interests has seen many businesses change to run of the mill corporations.