Historic Buildings & Places has joined a partnership of celebrities, academics, and civic and heritage organisations to stop the insensitive and harmful plans by Sellar Property Group for the Grade II listed Liverpool Street Station and Grade II* listed former Great Eastern Hotel (now the Andaz Hotel).
The group has re-established the Liverpool Street Station Campaign (LISSCA), which and successfully stopped the station’s total demolition in the 1970s under the chairmanship of Sir John Betjeman, of which HB&P – then Ancient Monuments Society – played an important role. The station was subsequently restored and extended in the 1980s in a manner that respected the Victorian character and form of the station.
Griff Rhys Jones has taken on the role of President of the new LISCCA committee, which is comprised of Historic Buildings & Places, The Twentieth Century Society, Council for British Archaeology, Save Britain’s Heritage, The Georgian Group, The Spitalfields Trust, Civic Voice, The London Historians, The Betjeman Society and The Victorian Society.
Other leading figures supporting the campaign include Stephen Fry and Tracey Emin CBE, Baroness Andrews OBE, Sir Charles Saumarez Smith, Anna Keay OBE of The Landmark Trust, Philip Davies, former Planning and Development Director at English Heritage; Dr Simon Thurley CBE, Chair of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and former Chief Executive of English Heritage; Ptolemy Dean OBE, Surveyor of the Fabric of Westminster Abbey; Professor Emeritus Neil Jackson, past-President of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain; and Benjamin Derbyshire, Historic England Commissioner and former President of RIBA.
Historic England’s initial response was to review and update the listings for both buildings, which resulted in the listing of the 1980s restoration work and upgrading of the hotel from Grade II to II*. The reaction and 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.
Sellar, the developer of The Shard, proposes to flatten much of Liverpool Street Station to enable construction of an office and hotel block. Being the third busiest station in the country, Stellar claims the redevelopment is necessary in order to improve passenger facilities and access. Designed by Architect’s Herzog & de Meuron, the existing concourse and southern end of the glazed train shed will be replaced with a new two level concourse that will sit beneath the new tower. The natural light and airy space that passengers currently experience will be lost. The main, lower concourse that will connect the platforms with the tube will be entirely enclosed and movement hampered by a myriad of support pillars, all reminiscent of the errors made at Birmingham New Street in the early 1970s.
While the partial demolition and direct physical impacts on the station are extremely harmful in themselves, Historic Buildings & Places and the LISSCA group are most concerned about the development above. The 109m high mixed-use tower includes the cantilevering of a 16-storey box out over the Grade II* hotel building and station concourse. It extends into a protected view corridor to St Paul’s and the bulk and scale of the tower hovering in the air would destroy one of the last cohesive Victorian streetscapes in this part of the City of London. Most significantly, there is also a real risk that this development will establish an unwelcome precedent for the construction of new buildings over listed buildings. This is something that must be strongly opposed.
Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson has said the scheme is ‘fundamentally misconceived’ and that “The small improvements offered by the scheme at Liverpool Street station would only be achieved at heavy cost to the character of one of London’s most valued public buildings.”
So far a petition with over 15000 signatures has been set up and an open letter in The Times was published urge the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, to call in this planning application and reject it to avoid the terrible precedent it would set for our valuable historic environment.
Sellar announced they submitted their proposal to the City of London in May and it is expected to be made valid for public exhibition over summer.
UPDATE 28/8/23: LISSCA have launched a fundraising drive to help in the campaign to save the station. We ask that you take moment to find out more about our fundraising efforts and appreciate your support. Find out more here.