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Crossrail damage fears intensify

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Concerns are escalating over the potential impact of the £10 billion Crossrail link on scores of historic buildings across the capital.

Following last week's discovery that plans to use a controversial tunnelling system could threaten the Barbican Centre (AJ 17.3.05), heritage groups have come forward with a list of other buildings that could be in jeopardy.

SAVE Britain's Heritage has already drawn up a list of nearly 50 historic gems that may be affected by the cross-London rail link.

Among those said to be in most danger are the Astoria Theatre in Charing Cross Road, a cluster of treasures around Tottenham Court Road and a swathe of railway bridges.

SAVE said: 'There is a clear need for [Crossrail], but the current plans will have terrible consequences for London's historic buildings and the potential Great Western Railway World Heritage Site. All in all, there will be quite a lot going.' The organisation, which intends to petition the Crossrail Bill, is also worried about English Heritage's stance on the proposals - in particular those to pull down a number of buildings.

'English Heritage? has meekly accepted 'preservation by record' in the case of demolition. This is contemptuous, ' SAVE added.

Architect Rupert Wheeler, from the Spitalfields Society, is another to have raised concerns about the impact of tunnelling under historic areas.

'There is a feeling that everything gets dumped in the East End because the people there are the least likely to complain. But as statutory owners of listed buildings, we have the statutory duty to object to this bill, ' Wheeler said.

'We have been told that these buildings can be repaired, but the point is that they should not be damaged in the first place, ' he added.

However, English Heritage believes all the problems can be overcome and has been encouraged by Alan Baxter & Associates' impact settlement report.

A spokesman said: 'We are reassured by the contents of the report. Alan Baxter has been asked to look at the mitigation measures and, if we know what is needed, then design solutions can be found.'

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