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King’s College London re-think on Strand demolition welcomed

King’s College London has stated that it has ‘recognised the groundswell of opinion’ over its planned demolition of its historic Strand buildings.

The Victorian Society has welcomed King’s College London’s statement that it has ‘recognised the groundswell of opinion’ over its planned demolition of its historic Strand buildings and is in talks with Westminster City Council about ‘how to take on board concerns and ensure a successful project’.

The Victorian Society has objected to the proposal from the outset, arguing that the ‘damaging’ plan will lead to a ‘blander’ London without creating enough space to provide a long-term solution to King’s desire to expand. 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.   

Christopher Costelloe, Director of the Victorian Society, said: ‘This positive statement from King’s, in which it states it has ‘strong heritage values’, will be welcomed by the thousands of people who have been campaigning to save these historic buildings. King’s should re-think the scheme to retain its historic buildings. Recognising the benefits they bring will benefit both King’s itself and London as a whole’.

A petition started by SAVE Britain’s Heritage now has over 9,000 signatures from members of the public objecting to the scheme and Communities Secretary, Greg Clark, has issued an Article 31 Direction while he considers whether to ‘call-in’ the scheme for a public inquiry.

 

King’s College London’s full statement is as follows:

“As an institution we have strong heritage values and are sensitive to the architecturally significant environment in which we operate in the heart of the city, evidenced by our redevelopment of the Maughan Library and our regeneration work on the East Wing of Somerset House.

“A major part of the Strand redevelopment relates to improving facilities which are not visible from the Strand and about which few concerns have been raised. However we recognise the groundswell of opinion with regard to the Strand façades, in particular from Historic England, who were consulted at an early stage and throughout the process. We are in discussions with Westminster City Council about the best way forward to take on board concerns and ensure a successful project.”

Thursday 21 May, 2015

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