The City Corporation’s decision to go ahead with plans for a substantial office development on the site of the Museum of London has prompted a detailed response and challenge from the Barbican Quarter Action campaign opposing the plans.
The Corporation invited and considered proposals from developers interested in retaining and repurposing the Museum buildings, and Bastion House, but has decide to seek planning permission from its own committee, and sell the site. This will help fund the Museum’s move to West Smithfield.
The Corporation argues that it has to achieve a “best consideration” by selling the site on the open market. In an open letter, the campaign argues for a wider interpretation, and points out that previous plans were for a less-profitable Centre for Music.
The campaign’s newsletter reads:
“As you have probably seen, the City has taken the decision to press ahead with a planning application to demolish the former Museum of London and Bastion House and redevelop the London Wall West site, despite the success of their “soft marketing” exercise to find developers interested in retro-fitting the site.
Whilst we wait to see the detail of the new scheme, we are taking professional and legal advice as how best to respond to the decision and how to be fully prepared to deal with the application when it is made.
Our initial reply to the City’s decision is in the form of an open letter to Chris Hayward, which you can read here.
The main thrust of our letter is that the decision to proceed with a new planning application fro demolition seems to fly in the face of their publicly stated commitment to take into account sustainability and would seem to disregard the recent shifts in planning policy at both national and local level which prioritise the retention of buildings for re-use and retrofit above demolition. Furthermore, the decision ignores the fact that the Twentieth Century Society placed Bastion House and the MoL on their Buildings at Risk register, praising their design and construction.
Please do read the attached letter in full, as it lays out our arguments in detail.
Whilst it is obviously dispiriting to watch the City proceed with this new application, the BQA remains fully committed to ensuring that the best possible scheme emerges from the process and we and our advisers firmly believe that environmental, cultural and financial objectives and considerations can and must be met by the eventual outcome.
As soon as there is news from the City regarding their new planning application we will, of course, be publicising it and we will make clear to everyone in the area what the timetable and process is and what we will be doing to ensure the best possible result for London Wall West.