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English Heritage rejects listing for Seifert's Croydon landmark

English Heritage has shot down an attempt to list Croydon’s iconic Richard Seifert-designed NLA Tower

The heritage organisation has turned down a request by The Twentieth Century society to award Grade II-listed status on architecture and planning grounds.

The society, in response, has vowed to appeal the decision which could see architecture minister Ed Vaizey, who is known to be sympathetic to post-war buildings, consider any fresh evidence.

Henrietta Billings, Twentieth Century Society senior conservation adviser, said:  ‘This was a chance to put Croydon on the post-war heritage map, and celebrate and protect one of Seifert’s best remaining examples of sculptural concrete in the UK.

‘The largely unaltered composition of the tower, water feature and concrete landscaped setting make it an outstanding 1960s building, on a par with Centre Point. We are extremely disappointed with the decision not to list and will be seeking a review from the Secretary of State.’  

A spokesperson for Engilsh Heritage said: ‘No. 1 Croydon has been very carefully considered against Seifert and Partners’ body of work, as well as in comparison with other contemporary office blocks, and it does not meet the necessarily strict criteria of special interest required for post-war buildings.

‘The design lacks the sophistication of Seifert’s best projects and the poor quality integrally designed landscaping detracts from the value of the whole scheme. Nevertheless the tower’s strong local interest, as a landmark and as a symbol of Croydon’s post-war identity, cannot be doubted.’

The 24-storey skyscraper opened in 1970 as the headquarters of Noble Lowndes Anninuities and was known as the NLA.

The unusual geometric structure, next to East Croydon station, has since been renamed ‘No. 1 Croydon’ but is still known locally as the ‘Weddingcake’ or ‘Threepenny bit’ building.

Unlike Seifert’s Grade II*-listed Centre Point where the original water fountain has been demolished, NLA’s original hard landscaping, external seating and water feature remain intact.

The public realm surrounding the tower is due to be overhauled as part of a £5.4 million John McAslan and Partners-designed scheme backed by the Croydon Council.

The project is part of a raft of measures by the local authority to improve connectivity in the south London district which was rebuilt as England’s Manhattan following heavy bombing in the Second World War.

 

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