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British Museum considers future of extension and Rogers

The British Museum has not ruled out using alternative architects to redesign the rejected Richard Rogers’ £135 million North Western extension project.

A source close to the project told the Architect’s Journal that ‘lots of options’ were being considered and would not dismiss a possible change in design team.

The museum is currently debating the future of the proposed development following Camden Council’s unexpected decision to turn down the scheme (on 23 July).

An exact explanation for the refusal has only just been made official and attacks the scheme’s ‘excessive bulk, scale, massing, site coverage and detailed design”, adding the new build “would detract from the special architectural and historic importance of the listed building”.

The council also criticised the plan’s lack of a sustainable transport policy, and said that the development could lead to dangerous situations for pedestrians and other road users.

A spokeswoman said: ‘The museum is still considering what they’re doing, and we’ll make further announcements once we have a clearer idea.’

Camden Council’s official reasons for refusal

RESOLVED –

THAT planning permission, listed building consent and conservation area consent be refused for the following reasons:-

1.           The proposed development, by virtue of its excessive bulk, scale, massing, site coverage and detailed design, would be harmful to the listed buildings, fail to respect the setting of the listed buildings and would detract from the character and appearance of the Bloomsbury Conservation Area, contrary to policies B1 (General design principles), B3 (Alterations and Extensions), B6 (Listed buildings) and B7 (Conservation areas) of the London Borough of Camden Unitary Development Plan 2006.

2.           The proposed development, in the absence of a legal agreement to secure pedestrian and environmental improvements, would be likely to contribute unacceptably to use of non-sustainable modes of transport contrary to policy T1 (Sustainable Transport) of the London Borough of Camden Replacement Unitary Development Plan 2006 and to advice contained in Camden Planning Guidance 2006.

3.           The proposed development, in the absence of a legal agreement to secure a green travel plan, would be likely to contribute unacceptably to use of non-sustainable modes of transport contrary to policy T1 (Sustainable Transport) of the London Borough of Camden Replacement Unitary Development Plan 2006 and to advice contained in Camden Planning Guidance 2006.

4.           The proposed development, in the absence of a legal agreement to secure contributions to carry out associated highways works would be likely to harm the Borough’s transport infrastructure, contrary to policy SD2 (Planning Obligations) of the London Borough of Camden Replacement Unitary Development Plan 2006 and to advice contained in the Camden Planning Guidance 2006.

5.           The proposed development, in the absence of a legal agreement to secure submission and implementation of a construction management plan, would be likely to contribute unacceptably to traffic disruption and dangerous situations for pedestrians and other road users, and be detrimental to the amenities of the area generally, contrary to policies T12 (Works Affecting Highways) and SD8B (Disturbance from demolition and construction) of the London Borough of Camden Replacement Unitary Development Plan 2006 and to advice contained in the Camden Planning Guidance 2006.

6.           The proposed development, in the absence of a legal agreement to secure submission and implementation of a servicing management plan, would be likely to contribute unacceptably to traffic disruption and dangerous situations for pedestrians and other road users, contrary to policy T12 (Works Affecting Highways) of the London Borough of Camden Replacement Unitary Development Plan 2006 and to guidance within Camden Planning Guidance 2006.

7.           The proposed development, in the absence of a legal agreement to secure replacement tree planting on Montague Place would harm the character and appearance of the conservation area and fail to conserve biodiversity in accordance with the requirements of policies B1, B7, N5 and N8 of the London Borough of Camden Replacement Unitary Development Plan 2006 and the advice contained in Camden Planning Guidance 2006

8.           The proposed development, in the absence of a legal agreement to secure appropriate biodiversity enhancement measures would fail to enhance biodiversity in the in accordance with the requirements of policy N5 of the London Borough of Camden Replacement Unitary Development Plan 2006 and the advice contained in Camden Planning Guidance 2006

9.           The proposed development, in the absence of a legal agreement requiring for the development to achieve a BREEAM rating of ‘very good’ and for the sustainability measures detailed for the north-west development and the site wide energy strategy, would fail to be sustainable in its use of resources, contrary to policy SD9 (Resources and Energy) of the London Borough of Camden Replacement Unitary Development Plan 2006 and to advice contained in Camden Planning Guidance 2006.

10.      The proposed development, in the absence of a legal agreement to secure local labour and procurement would fail to contribute towards the creation of local employment and business opportunities which reinforce neighbourhood renewal objectives and improve sustainability of the local economy, contrary to policy SD2 (Planning Obligations) of the London Borough of Camden Replacement Unitary Development Plan 2006 and to advice contained in the Camden Planning Guidance 2006.

Listed Building Consent:                         2009/1762/L

1.           The proposed alterations to the listed building are considered harmful to its special architectural and historic interest and the merits of the scheme are not considered to outweigh this harm. As such they are contrary to policy B6 (Listed Buildings) of the London Borough of Camden Replacement Unitary Development Plan 2006.

2.           The proposed development, by virtue of its excessive bulk, scale, massing, site coverage and inappropriate detailed design, would detract from the special architectural and historic importance of the listed building and its setting contrary to policy B6 (Listed buildings) of the London Borough of Camden Unitary Development Plan 2006.

Conservation Area Consent:      2009/1763/C

1.           The demolition of the unlisted buildings, in the absence of an approved scheme for their replacement would be likely to result in harm to the character and appearance of the surrounding Conservation Area contrary to policies B7 (Conservation areas) of the London Borough of Camden Replacement Unitary Development Plan 2006.

 

Readers' comments (3)

  • Absolutely the right decision, but questions now need to be asked of those planning officers who recommended approval. Questions need to be asked also of English Heritage, which should have been objecting to these (and other such) plans and didn't.

    Other organisations (SAVE, Georgian Group, local groups) and informed individuals objected for all the right reasons (see the comments section of the previous report linked to).

    Has EH lost its way? Many feel it to be so.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Re the above anonymous comment from the Bloomsbury Conservation Area Advisory Committee - can they stoop any lower ? Now its veiled threats to planning officers and English Heritage. They are obviously worried a wholly wrong decision may be rightfully over-turned ?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • The comment was not from anyone connected with the committee, I know as I am not in any way connected,and I made it, and it's very clear the correct decison was made. Other organisations and informed individuals also objected to the plans, and would have sought Judicial Review or public inquiry had these been passed.

    There is no veiled threat, the planners and English Heritage were simply wrong. The damage to the Grade I listed Britsh Museum was against national policy. English Heritage has lost its way, cowed at times into supporting plans which it should not, in order not to be seen to be getting in the way of development. CABE has no interest in history.

    The plans were refused by elected members. That's democratic, isn't it? Appreantly the local authority has found many reasons why (planning policies) the plans should not have been passed, after the event.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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