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RFAC slams designs for Marble Arch restaurant

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The Royal Fine Art Commission has slated proposals by Proun Architects for a restaurant on the Marble Arch traffic island, calling it 'an urban invasion' of a London Royal Park, and has called for a public inquiry to decide the issue.

In a damning release last week, rfac chairman Lord St John of Fawsley called the proposal 'insensitive, ugly and dangerous', 'threatening a new encroachment on the park character of Hyde Park', and argued that the public preferred the quiet enjoyment of grass, plants, flowers and trees from its parks. 'An urban invasion of a London Royal Park deserves as much condemnation as the nibbling away of the green belt,' he said. 'The long-term aim at Marble Arch should be to undo the vandalism and encroachment from earlier roadbuilding, which the commission opposed at the time, and not to make it worse by building a restaurant.'

The proposal placed the restaurant in a sunken courtyard with public access via the subway system, which the rfac feared would hinder reintegration of the island with the park. The rfac attacked Westminster's move to refurbish or 'titivate' the subways, branding them 'depressing, often scarred by graffiti' and a last resort. 'The only pleasure they give is to potential muggers,' he said.

The RFAC has called for respectful supermarket signage at Ludlow's new Tesco by MacCormac Jamieson Prichard. Lord St John warned that it could be a 'visual disaster if the final effect is marred by loud and intrusive supermarket signage'.

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