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King’s College London plans to demolish Strand buildings

The Society argues that the ‘damaging’ plan will lead to a ‘blander’ London without creating enough space to provide a long-term solution to the College’s desire to expand.

The Victorian Society has strongly objected to King’s College London’s plans to demolish a row of historic buildings on the Strand close to the Grade I-listed Somerset House. The Society argues that the ‘damaging’ plan will lead to a ‘blander’ London without creating enough space to provide a long-term solution to the College’s desire to expand.

Victorian Society Conservation Adviser, James Hughes, said: This damaging plan would see London lose a characterful group of historic buildings and some of the last traces of the Strand’s historic street pattern of distinctive narrow plots. The individual buildings are attractive and add interest to the conservation area - their variety of styles and decoration charting 200 years of architectural fashions. Central London would be blander if this terrace were lost. While we appreciate King’s College London’s desire to increase its space, it should not be done at the expense of these buildings, especially given that their demolition would not provide a long term solution for the College’s growth.

The Victorian Society considers that demolishing the buildings would cause substantial harm to the significance of the Strand conservation area in which Westminster Council has specifically identified them as being of merit. Demolition would also harm the setting of the Grade I-listed buildings of Somerset House and St Mary le Strand. The College’s justification that a larger student population will help ‘to increase vibrancy for this particular part of Westminster’ seems unlikely given that the Strand is already one of the nation’s busiest streets.

King’s College London states in the documents accompanying its current application that its existing Strand Building, which itself controversially required the demolition of a row of historic Strand properties 40 years ago, ‘is of no architectural merit’ and ‘relates poorly to the historic context’. The College should learn from its mistakes and end its short-sighted destruction of historic buildings.

The current planning application can be viewed here and an album showing the buildings in more detail is here

Last year the Victorian Society objected to the College demolishing of a number of historic properties on Borough High Street to build a hotel and retail outlets.

Tuesday 14 April, 2015

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