Culture minister Tracey Crouch has rejected proposals to list Basil Spence’s Hyde Park Barracks in central London, despite the bid’s endorsement by Historic England
Crouch was not persuaded by Historic England’s recommendations that the landmark Brutalist tower deserved a grade II listing.
The Twentieth Century (C20) Society, which had made the initial listing application, described the decision as ‘outrageous’ and driven by a government desire to see the the Ministry of Defence site redeveloped for luxury housing.
Completed by Spence in 1970, the barracks includes a 33-storey residential tower and sits on a site that has been home to the Household Cavalry since 1795. However its Knightsbridge location would offer the potential to develop some of the capital’s most expensive new homes and it is understood around 20 developer-led teams are looking at the plot.
Quinlan and Francis Terry Architects – working with developer Bruce Rippon – has already revealed plans to replace the barracks with an enormous classically-styled residential block.
C20 Society director Catherine Croft said the barracks were a major work by a leading postwar architect, and that the Department for Culture Media and Sport had failed in its duty to protect the nation’s heritage, when faced with ‘inappropriate pressure’ from another government department.
‘There is no doubt that if the barracks had been listed then the value of the site would have been greatly reduced,’ she said. ‘This is an outrageous example of a government department failing to do its job.”
Historic England director of listing Roger Bowdler said the body had looked carefully at whether the barracks should be protected before reaching its conclusion.
‘We’re disappointed that the minister has decided not to follow our advice to list the site at grade II,’ he said.
‘Basil Spence was one of Britain’s most renowned 20th Century architects, and this is one of his major works. Clearly an exceptional modern barracks, we also know the complex has both admirers and dissenters. While we concluded there were claims to special interest, we respect the minister’s right to reach a different view.’
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