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Campaigners object to Assael tower close to historic synagogue

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Conservationists have objected to a 20-storey Assael tower proposed for a plot close to a 300-year-old place of worship in the City of London

Save Britain’s Heritage wrote to the City of London Corporation warning that the office scheme would harm the setting of the Bevis Marks Synagogue.

Assael has applied to demolish a six-storey 1970s workspace building on the plot at 33 Creechurch Lane and replace it with more than 10,000m² of mainly office space, with a small amount of retail.

Save Britain’s Heritage said the proposals would ‘affect the immediate setting of one of England’s most important religious buildings’ while the project has received over 600 objections, many from members of Bevis Marks Synagogue.

Jewish group S&P Sephardi Community describes the synagogue as ‘the only synagogue in Europe that has held regular services continuously for over 300 years’.

Save Britain’s Heritage said in a statement: ‘We are concerned that the 20-storey building proposed would fundamentally alter the streetscape and substantially harm the synagogue’s setting.

‘Heneage Lane would be turned into a narrow canyon, while the well-used courtyard is likely to be largely overshadowed. Members of the congregation have told us that they are concerned that the tower would block out daylight from the interior.

‘We recommend downscaling this proposal and developing a more sympathetic approach that is less overbearing to its historic neighbour.’

The City Heritage Society also objected to the scheme. ‘The location of this proposed building, which is on the east of the synagogue, would throw the synagogue into shadow for half of the day,’ it said in an official letter.

Historic England said it had no comments to make on the application.

Client heritage consultant Iceni said in a report to the council’s planning team that the Assael scheme would ‘preserve the significance’ of the synagogue. It added that an assessment showed ‘no adverse effect’ from the proposed development on the daylight and sunlight amenity of the synagogue.

‘The elevation facing the site along the tight lane access contains three stained glass windows and under the existing conditions does not gain any view of the sky, relying on diffused and reflected light,’ said the Iceni study.

It added: ‘The current setting of the synagogue is limited, with development on all sides of the structure, which sits in a small U-shaped courtyard, and fronting onto Heneage Lane, which itself runs adjacent to the site.

‘In our view, the proposed development would not create a dramatic change to the space, and would not influence its overall character, or contribution towards the significance of the synagogue, or understandings of that significance.’

Assael declined to comment.

Plan showing the site of Assael's proposed tower in yellow and the existing synagogue as (1)

Plan showing the site of Assael’s proposed tower in yellow and the existing synagogue as (1)

Source: Assael

Plan showing the site of Assael’s proposed tower in yellow and the existing synagogue as (1) 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I wonder how many of the objectors take the same view of the proposed Holocaust Centre being sited in Victoria Tower Gardens?
    And I wonder if Assael really needs the work, which appears to be a prime example of tearing down a building that still has plenty of life in it?
    And isn't an increase from six storeys to twenty storeys yet another example of over-stuffing central London?

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