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Historic buildings on London’s Piccadilly face demolition

Eight historic buildings at the heart of London’s West End have been earmarked for demolition under plans submitted to Westminster council. They are owned by the Crown Estate, which wants to redevelop a large block south of Piccadilly.

The ambitious redevelopment plan known as St James's Gateway is being strongly opposed by the Victorian Society.

Three of the buildings affected have even been identified as ‘Buildings of Merit' by Westminster Council, and the whole site lies within a Conservation Area. Under government planning guidelines this should offer them some protection from demolition. Yet all eight could disappear if the Crown Estate's plan to clear the site and build a modern six-storey building gets the go-ahead.

'That this corner of Piccadilly has a slightly run-down air is not in dispute, but demolition is not the answer,' said Heloise Brown, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society. 'These buildings certainly need renovating and cleaning; they could even be extended as unusually for central London there is space behind them; there could be improvements in the street furniture, shop fronts and signage. All of this would make the properties more attractive to tenants without the needless destruction of eight historic buildings.'

If the Crown Estate is unwilling to retain them the Victorian Society believes they should be placed on the open market, rather than demolished.

Which buildings are under threat?

The three buildings on Piccadilly threatened with demolition are 212, 213 and 214. 214 and 213 were built in the 1860s. 212 Piccadilly was built in 1872-3 for the National Provincial Bank and designed by John Gibson, a leading bank architect of the 19th Century.

Under the plans 210-211 Piccadilly (architect unknown) will have its facade dismantled and the building rebuilt altering floor levels.

18, 19, 20 and 21 Jermyn Street will be retained. But 21a, 22 and 23 Jermyn Street, along with 3-4 Eagle Place will be demolished. These, like all the buildings above lie in the St James' Conservation Area.

A Grade-II listed building at 27 Regent Street will be converted and refurbished as part of the plans.

What do you think of these plans?  Email us and let us know. 

Tuesday 7 July, 2009

More recent item: Demolition risk for unprotected Sale Hotel
Earlier item: Manchester’s threatened Palatine Buildings put forward for listing

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