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Buckley Gray Yeoman wins go-ahead for No1 Poultry revamp

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Buckley Gray Yeoman has won approval for alterations to James Stirling’s 1997 postmodern No1 Poultry after making major revisions to the scheme in the face of widespread hostility to initial plans

High-profile figures in the architectural world including Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid united in opposition to the proposals when they were first submitted to the City of London Corporation in May last year.

In response, the practice submitted amendments to the application in February which reversed a previous attempt to infill the building’s colonnades.

The City of London Corporation planning and transportation committee last week voted to approve the revised scheme in line with the recommendation of planning officers.

A report by officers said: ‘The proposal would not be detrimental to the building or to the character or appearance of the conservation area.’

The amendments to the scheme have placated a number of the opponents to the original development, a number of which have now withdrawn their objections.

In a submission to the corporation, Siggi Wernik, former associate partner at Stirling Wilford & Associates, said: ‘James Stirling always recognised that his buildings should adapt to meet modern requirements.

‘Although I am sure he would not have made proposals as shown in the revised application I am confident that the significant elements of the Stirling design will remain intact.

‘I can therefore withdraw my objection and ask only that you make the necessary provisions in your approval to make sure that the materials and detailing of any interventions match the original design.’

Others withdrawing objections in response to the amendments include Darren Stewart Capel, the former site architect for No1 Poultry.

However, he said that a significant difficulty in achieving the proposed alterations would be sourcing stone for the distinctive pink and yellow facades.

He said: ‘The principle stones are Wilderness Red from the New Forest in England and Helidon from Australia. Sourcing both stones may be problematic:

‘Wilderness Red was quarried from a small quarry that was effectively exhausted at the time of the construction of No1 Poultry.

‘Helidon Sandstone is quarried from a large quarry in Australia but even the carefully preselected blocs were disappointingly inconsistent in their characteristic figuring and to achieve a uniform yet dynamic façade with this stone was exceptionally difficult.’

Others have reiterated their opposition to the changes, including Foster and Piers Gough.

In a letter to planners, Gough said: ‘If it were any other type of work of art by an artist of this stature - which could not anyway receive the protection of listing - the world would still rightly be horrified by such an attempt to alter it. Overpainting works by Francis Bacon. Hacking off pieces of an Epstein sculpture.

‘Should someone bowderlerise a play or alter a concerto it may be regrettable but it does not destroy the original. In this case it does and the original will cease to exist.’

In December, culture secretary Ed Vaizey rejected a recommendation by watchdog Historic England to list the building, a decision which is currently being challenged by the 20th Century Society.

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