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St Pancras luxury hotel plans 'not good enough'

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RHWL Architects and Richard Griffiths Architects' plans to transform the Neo-Gothic chambers of London's Grade I-listed St Pancras Station have run into controversy.

The Victorian Society has lodged a number of 'serious' objections to the proposals, for developer Manhattan Lofts Corporation, to transform George Gilbert Scott's 19th-century structure into a luxury Marriott hotel.

Although the building's facade will remain untouched, the interior will be reconfigured to provide 250 bedrooms, two restaurants, a ballroom and a health and leisure centre.

The upper floors of the building, formerly the Midland Grand Hotel, will be designed as loft-style apartments. The project is scheduled for completion in 2007.

Top of the Victorian Society's concerns is a proposal to convert an existing taxi rank into the hotel's main reception. The pressure group also criticises the architecture of a new west wing as 'insufficiently varied'.

Richard Holder, the Victorian Society's senior architectural adviser, said there are areas of serious concern. 'The taxi rank was always intended as an open space, ' he said. 'We want the original hard character retained. We do not want a sea of fitted carpets and potted plants.

'Designs for the proposed west wing are not good enough. What is shown is a straight repetition of the existing Gothic structure. We want something that reflects the variety used by Scott when designing the chambers.

'There is still room for improvement in the designs, ' Holder added.

But RHWL principal director Geoff Mann expressed surprise at the Victorian Society's outburst, saying he has liaised with the conservation lobby.

'We are working closely with English Heritage and Camden council throughout the development.' he said. 'EH has held fortnightly meetings with us and it has guided us through every drawing. This is not a hands-off project.'

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