Relaunched Liverpool Street Station Campaign names Griff Rhys Jones as President and asks public to sign petition

The campaign's slogan: SEE IT, SAY IT, SAVE IT! All aboard!! Sign the petition here! The public can donate to the Society’s Liverpool Street Station fighting fund here.

The Victorian Society is today announcing a partnership of leading heritage and conservation bodies which aims to stop the insensitive and harmful plans for Grade II listed Liverpool Street Station and Grade II* listed former Great Eastern Hotel, now the Andaz London Liverpool Street Hotel. The Society urges the public to sign the petition asking Sellar and Network Rail to abandon the plans. If you want to support our work fighting for heritage click here to join. Membership starts from just £2.50 a month.

The Victorian Society is chairing the reformed Liverpool Street Station Campaign (LISSCA) which stopped the station’s total demolition in the 1970s. The committee is comprised of Save Britain’s Heritage, The Twentieth Century Society, Historic Buildings & Places, The Georgian Group, The Spitalfields Trust, Civic Voice, London Historians and The Victorian Society. The close gathering of these major voices for heritage and conservation is extremely rare and reflects how seriously they individually, and collectively, view the threat to these important buildings

Listen to Griff Rhys Jones, LISCCA President, on BBC Radio 4 Today from 2.22.45. Rhys Jones said,

“I use Liverpool Street Station a lot. I know it very well. It's my London station. I love it. It is a great and distinguished, working monument. This campaign is very personal to me but I am only adding a voice to an extraordinary uniformity of concern. All the major heritage sector bodies are appalled by what is proposed. They have joined together. They all want to try to preserve a superb London landmark. I have seldom seen such uniformity. We believe the people of London will be with us too, if they are properly informed. This great station and hotel are not only important listed buildings, they are part of the living story of London, just as much as Westminster Abbey or St Paul's. They should be safe from part demolition and what is intended to be a huge, sixteen storey, cantilevered tower, stuck directly above them, blacking out the daylight and virtually burying the original buildings. I was honoured to be asked to be President of LISSCA in the 21st century. In the 1970s the committee members included Sir John Betjeman, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner and Spike Milligan. They preserved these spaces for us back then. We hope that similar giants will join us fifty years on. It seems unbelievable to me that we need to renew their fight. You can play your part to prevent this unnecessary, destructive, and wasteful development by signing the petition on change.org. Let’s hope that a massive public outcry will lead to Sellar dropping these plans.”

LISSCA believes that if the plans for a 21-storey tower are approved it would set a terrible precedent which would mean that no listed building is safe from harm. The experimental plan to cantilever a tower above the hotel and station is perhaps unprecedented over a Grade II* listed building. Historic England describe Grade II* buildings as particularly important of more than special interest with only 5.8% of listed buildings being Grade II*.

The developers have repeatedly argued that this scheme will cause no harm to the historic train station. However, the facts speak for themselves. The newly listed sensitive 1990s trainshed that links the Victorian Trainshed with the Victorian Hotel would be partially demolished for a tower. This would place the station concourse into shadow and destroy the impression of a cohesive Victorian space. The former Great Eastern Hotel would also lose its original function and become closed office space no longer accessible to the public. The main exception would be the ballroom which would have holes knocked through its walls to open it up to the station. The Manser additions, and the hotel refurbishment led by Sir Terence Conran would also be lost. Finally, all this would be in a conservation area and impact on views of St Paul’s. This scheme clearly harms heritage.

LISSCA has its origins in the original 1974 campaign, when the Victorian Society and other heritage and conservation organisations successfully fought alongside the public to save Liverpool Street Station from total demolition. The Campaign's president was Sir John Betjeman, the poet Laureate and former Secretary of the Victorian Society. The Vice-Presidents included Spike Milligan the comedian and author, Patrick Cormack then an MP now the Right Honourable the Baron Cormack, Andrew Faulds, a former actor and MP, and George Allan who was subsequently an Islington Councillor and an important figure in the campaign to conserve church organs, ‘Pipe Up’. LISSCA has been reactivated in the face of the latest threat to these London heritage landmarks in the twenty first century.

In the 70s LISSCA mobilised public opinion and ultimately ensured that Liverpool Street Station remained sensitive to its Victorian origins. It now plans to do the same in the 21st century.

The development is being proposed by Sellar, the developer of The Shard (2013) and Paddington Square (under construction) in London, Network Rail who own, repair and develop the railway infrastructure in England, Scotland and Wales, and MTR, a provider of railway services who have just started to run the Elizabeth Line in London. The information including visuals from the most recent consultation by the developer in January 2023 can be found at www.upgradelss.com

Key LISSCA partners outline why they are behind the campaign:

The Georgian Group “The height and mass of the current proposals at Liverpool Street Station would compromise the prominent part that the drum and dome of St Paul’s Cathedral has played in the London skyline for the past three centuries. The proposed development also threatens other aspects of the City of London’s rich heritage. It would dwarf the tower of St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate and obscure key views within the Bishopsgate Conservation Area. We are joining fellow conservation organisations to take a stand against it and safeguard our historic buildings from insensitive development”.

Historic Buildings & Places “We supported the successful campaign to save Liverpool Street Station and the Great Eastern Hotel from redevelopment in the 1970s, which were subsequently restored and extended in a manner that respected their historic character and form. The current proposal for a 109m high mixed use office tower cantilevered over the station concourse and hotel would destroy one of the last cohesive Victorian streetscapes in this part of the City of London. The bulk and scale of the tower is unacceptable and harmful to the appearance, character and historic setting of these listed buildings. There is also a real risk that this development will establish an unwelcome precedent for the construction of cantilevered buildings over listed buildings. This is something that must be strongly opposed.”

London Historians “Without reservation, we support the new campaign by LISSCA to oppose the announced plans for large scale development of Liverpool Street Station. We consider the tower proposal in particular to be wholly inappropriate for the station and its immediate environs and indeed more broadly in the general area, which already has been overdeveloped in the teeth of opposition from local residents.”

The Spitalfields Trust “Liverpool Street Station is one of the great railway termini in the capital. This celebrated group of buildings are monuments to the engineering and architectural achievements of the nineteenth century. Liverpool Street is an excellent example of a Gothic train shed, filled with light. The proposals are overbearing and will cause huge damage to the character of this historic building, with no compelling justification. Liverpool Street has been repaired following war damage and was saved from demolition once before, it is an important building in London's history and streetscape along with its hotel.”

The Twentieth Century Society “While many may think of Liverpool Street Station and the Great Eastern Hotel as belonging exclusively to the 19th century, both were extensively remodelled in the last decades of the 20th century. The successful campaign to save the station and the sensitive, high-quality architectural interventions of the 1980s and 90s that followed were hailed as a milestone in the heritage conservation movement yet are now threatened with demolition barely 30 years later. We’ve joined the LISSCA campaign to make the case for the quality and value of the late 20th-century work, and to fight the devastating plans that would permanently disfigure this iconic gateway to London.”

SAVE Britain's Heritage "The emerging proposals show Liverpool Street Station and its majestic neighbour, the former Great Eastern Hotel, stamped on by massively overscaled development. The colossal towers would block out daylight from the glass vaulted roofs across the station, and the tower shown on top of the grade II* listed hotel ignores its historic setting. So bulky is this scheme, key views of St Paul's Cathedral would be interrupted. The developers claim public benefits in return for this scale of development, yet we've seen no evidence that these could not be achieved through a more sensitive scheme. SAVE Britain's Heritage will be objecting strongly to the proposal in its current form." Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain's Heritage.

The Victorian Society “The Victorian Society was disappointed to see only minor tweaks to the massing of the tower following the train shed’s inclusion in the station’s listing and the upgrading of the former Great Eastern Hotel’s listing to Grade II*. That should have resulted in a fundamental rethink of the scheme. This scheme clearly harms heritage. The Victorian Society is not opposed to passenger improvements. Since the works of 1985-91 Liverpool Street Station has, in general, worked extremely well, but the need for some improvements, especially in lift access, has become evident. So far no information has been released to show that a huge commercial profit driven scheme of this scale is the only viable way to make passenger improvements to Liverpool Street Station.” Joe O’Donnell, Director.

03/02/2023


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