Bedford Square was built between 1790 and 1795 for the upper middle classes of Georgian London and as such is an old old garden square. Indeed, Bedford Square is the only surviving fully intact Georgian square in London and as a result a very special place indeed.
The square is now largely commercial accommodation with only a scattering of residential uses cropping up again on the south terrace. For the time that I have known the square, the buildings were almost exclusively B1 Office Use and anecdotally largely occupied by those in the publishing world of Random House, Jonathan Cape, Yale University Press and Bloomsbury Publishers, as well as professional occupiers.
Recently however a new life has been introduced into the square and it is in September each year when this particular form of inhabitant comes to life and flowers. Not to be out done, it comes with its own subtle and unique show of bright colour and glamour. And this life is very, very intelligent indeed. Some might even say, the life blood of our future. Indeed Bertrand Russell, a prominently intellectual member of the Bedford Estates’ owning Russell family would, I believe, have been profoundly pleased at its existence and in accord with his famous “Educational Theory”.
The event that I refer to is, of course, graduation and the new form of “life” being that of the international student. There is no commercial square in London nowadays that can boast such a display of intellectual substance as Bedford Square does over the weeks of early September. This is a wonderfully colourful annual display of worldwide learning in central London, celebrating new young intellectual success from all over the globe. The square literarily buzzes with life.
Transforming the square to D1 Education use
At some stage during 2015 the balance swung to D1 and, with the introduction of French school L’Ecole Jeannine Manuel in 21,000 sq ft on the southside of the square, over 50% of its current inhabitants occupy as D1 Use or Education organisations. The square itself comprises approximately 300,000 sq ft. Of this, approx. 133,000 sq ft is occupied by B1 Office occupiers, 15,000 sq ft C3 Residential and the remaining 152,000 sq ft are now designated D1 Education space. This is a significant and poignant shift for the location and indeed London itself.
What Medical D1 Use is to Harley Street, Educational D1 Use is becoming to Bedford Square. Bedford Square has a long historic association with education being the former home to Bedford College, the first place for women’s higher education in Britain. And Camden should be revelling in this and promoting more D1 Uses throughout its borough. What a legacy to enhance and what seeds are laid down for its future as droves of successful students across every social strata of the world look back, throughout their prosperous lives, on Bloomsbury as their spiritual and intellectual homes!
The L’Ecole Jeannine Manuel joins the ranks of other prominent occupiers that include Professor Grayling’s College of the Humanities, independent Indian college, Amity University, US university Paul Mellon Centre, as well as long term occupiers New York University, the Architects’ Association, Royal Holloway College and Sotheby’s Institute of Art.
What a line up! The alumni of this lot is truly “awesome” (please pardon the phrase). Indeed we at MB&A are happy to announce, somewhat unofficially, that Bedford Square is now THE most intelligent and young old square in London!
MB&A is a Commercial Property Consultancy specialising in D1 Educational and Health Use properties as well as B1 Offices. Contact us if you are looking for, or wish to dispose of, D1 designated Use property in Bedford Square, Bloomsbury or central London.