King's expansion 'will create blander London'

Plans by King’s to demolish historic buildings in a multimillion pound redevelopment of its Strand campus have been criticised by a conservation group

April 20, 2015

Source: Reuters

The Victorian Society says it strongly objects to the proposals to bulldoze a series of 18th-century shops, to be replaced by the university’s so-called “New Academic Building”, which will be integrated into its main central London campus.

The plans are part of moves to create space for an extra 2,600 students at the campus, which will include a revamped glass frontage for the 1970s building.

In addition, King’s is to take over Bush House, the former BBC World Service headquarters, from September 2016 and several buildings in the Aldwych Quarter from 2025, it was announced last month.

However, the Victorian Society has criticised the plans.

“This damaging plan would see London lose a characterful group of historic buildings and some of the last traces of the Strand’s historic street pattern of distinctive narrow plots,” James Hughes, the society’s conservation adviser, told Times Higher Education.

“The individual buildings are attractive and add interest to the conservation area – their variety of styles and decoration charting 200 years of architectural fashions – Central London would be blander if this terrace were lost,” he added.

The society also says that the King’s planning application states that its 1970s Strand building, which itself required the demolition of a row of historic Strand properties 40 years ago, “is of no architectural merit” and “relates poorly to the historic context”.

“The college should learn from its mistakes and end its short-sighted destruction of historic buildings,” it says.

A King’s spokeswoman said the college is aware of objections and had been “mindful of the issues they raise throughout the development of the project”.

“We are extremely proud of our heritage and are sensitive to the architecturally significant environment in which we operate at the heart of London,” she said.

“A thriving centre of excellence in education and research on the Strand brings considerable value and public benefit to London, which is recognised in the support from English Heritage for the application.”

She added that the redeveloped site will become “a welcoming, flexible and connected hub for our staff and students, the public and our partners across the arts, science, public policy and legal arenas for generations to come”.

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Reader's comments (1)

How does a 'thriving centre of excellence in education and research' justify its cutting of staff posts? Can the Higher reveal how many posts at King's at to be cut?