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Balfron Tower listing upgraded

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Ministers have upgraded the listing of Erno Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower in Poplar, London, to grade II*

The 26-storey building, previously listed at Grade II, was completed in 1967, and is the elder sister of Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower in North Kensington, which achieved grade II* status in 1998.

The Department for Culture Media and Sport has also listed the neighbouring Glenkerry House at grade II.

It has declined to upgrade the 11 storey Carradale House block on the estate from its existing Grade II listing, but will give it an improved list entry.

The department has also agreed with a recommendation from watchdog Historic England not to list the remaining buildings and landscaping on the estate.

This includes a shop, car park, community facilities, and low-rise housing originally designed by Goldfinger for elderly residents, and will remain protected only by Conservation Area status.

Architect James Dunnett, who applied for the listing on behalf of preservation body Docomomo UK, told AJ that the decision to omit these buildings was ‘bad news’.

He said: ‘It misses the entire point of the modern movement which was about space – the spaces the buildings create should be protected as much as the architecture.

‘It is a mistake to think of the lower buildings as boring is a misunderstanding – keeping some areas quiet enhances the statement made by the taller blocks.’

Earlier this month, heritage campaign group the Twentieth Century Society wrote to Tower Hamlets council to object to a planning application by Studio Egret West and Ab Rogers Design to refurbish Balfron Tower.

It said the changes, which is backed by Poplar HARCA, Londonewcastle and United House, would ‘be detrimental to the character of this highly significant landmark building.’

Speaking to AJ this morning, Catherine Croft, director of the society said: ‘The listing is a good decision and well-deserved. It is encouraging that they are taking the other buildings into consideration.’

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