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Heritage groups claim threat to Lutyens' Delhi

Conservation groups in Delhi, India, are fighting to preserve Edwin Lutyens’ New Delhi after the city released its draft for a new urban plan.

Despite the masterplan – drafted by the Delhi Urban Art Commission – setting aside a 36km2 conservation area to protect Lutyens’ work, many campaigners believe it is not enough and that the Edwardian architect’s work is seriously under threat.

As part of the masterplan several bungalows may be torn down north of the Rajpath – the city mall that lies at the centre of the Lutyens masterplan – to allow for new high-rise residential and office blocks.

The new plan also proposes building new, contemporary bungalows on some parts of the conservation area, alongside the Lutyens-era buildings.

Speaking to The New York Times, A G Krishna Menon of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage believes city officials are bending to the whim of developers.

‘They have considered the development potential of this area and prioritised that over heritage qualities,’ he said.

Lutyens was charged with masterplanning a ‘new’ Delhi in 1912, when the British decided to move the capital from Calcutta.

Completed in 1931, Lutyens’ Delhi combined his neo-classical approach with local vernacular, particularly India’s Mughal and Buddhist past.

The Delhi Urban Art Commission believes its new masterplan will give more rationality to development around Lutyens' work, and denies any accusations of ‘selling out’.

The commission’s chair, Mumbai architect Charles Correa, said: ‘You have to have some sense of cohesion to urban form. Too much of what we have built in India today looks like the bottom of the sea – it is just everything plunked down wherever it fell.’

Click here to see an image of Lutyens' Viceroy's Palace in New Delhi.

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