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Campaigners demand call-in for contentious City police station refurb

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The Twentieth Century Society has demanded the communities secretary call in controversial plans by Seven Architecture to overhaul the UK’s only listed post-war police station

Proposals were approved earlier today (25 July) to build a nine-storey tower, infill an existing courtyard, convert basements and carry out an internal refurb at the City of London Police’s Grade II*-listed station in Wood Street.

The Corporation of London’s transportation and planning committee voted 16-4 in favour of the contentious designs for the 1966 building by ‘progressive Classicists’ McMorran and Whitby, despite a strongly worded objection from the Twentieth Century Society.

In May, the society raised concerns about the potentially ‘damaging’ tower extension, which will connect to the existing tower via a glazed link at each level, claiming it would undermine ‘the careful balance and legibility of the built ensemble’.

A spokesperson for the society branded today’s approval ‘appalling’ and said it had already asked communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid to step in. They said: ’Wood Street is the only listed post-war police station in the country. Its enduring street presence in an area of the City that has been subject to large-scale and rapid change is of major significance.

‘It’s appalling that this application has been granted permission, and on a recommendation to the planning committee that it would cause ‘less than substantial harm’. This is in direct opposition to both our own advice and that of Historic England.’

The spokesperson added: ‘Decisions like this completely undermine the purpose of the listing system, and we urge the secretary of state to call in this application for his determination.’

According to Seven Architecture’s design and access statement, the site’s existing four-storey courtyard buildings and tower originally used as residential accommodation for officers was ‘tired’ and no longer suitable for the needs of modern policing.

Seven Architecture declined to comment.

However a spokesperson for City of London Corporation said: ’The City of London Police submitted a planning application to the City of London Corporation to renovate their current buildings in the Square Mile.

‘The aim of this application, which includes their operational headquarters at Wood Street, is to give the City’s Police fit-for-purpose facilities that will allow them to respond more effectively to today’s policing needs.’

Comment from Historic England

’We are disappointed that the City of London Corporation has approved the application for an extension to the elegant tower of the Grade II* listed Wood Street police station, because we advised that this would cause serious harm to the building’s special architectural interest.

’We certainly acknowledge that the City of London Police needs a building that is fit for purpose, but it is our view that this aspect of the current proposals would damage one of London’s finest post-war classical buildings.’

City Police Station, Wood Street

City Police Station, Wood Street

Source: Eric de Maré / RIBA Collections.

City Police Station, Wood Street by McMorran and Whitby - completed 1966

Click here to see the full plans

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Readers' comments (1)

  • It's all about over-stuffing London, with the acquiescence of authorities charged with safeguarding the built environment but which are too easily swayed by the power of mammon.

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