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Raft of late 20th-century offices eyed up for listing

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English Heritage is looking at 14 post-war offices for possible protection under its 30-year listing rule

The conservation body has drawn up a ‘thematic list’ of late 20th-century commercial buildings, including six within the City of London, which it believes are worth potentially worth of statutory protection.

Among the buildings being assessed, most of which have just turned 30 years old (see full list below), are Richard Seifert’s cylindrical 1 Kemble Street (1966) – CABE’s former headquarters – and the architect’s NatWest tower (1980).

The organisation hopes the study will give ‘clarity and certainty’ to developers and help avoid repeating last-minute applications for listing. In 2011 English Heritage (EH) famously clashed with British Land as it attempted to list London’s 1980s Broadgate office campus after Make had submitted plans to replace No 4 and No 6 Broadgate.

Roger Bowdler, EH’s designation director said: ‘We are extremely selective in recommending buildings for listing and the bar is set very high. This category includes some really great buildings and we need to identify the very best from all epochs. Listing is not the end of the story – it’s the start of a discussion about the building’s future.’

however, according to Peter Murray, chairman of New London Architecture, the list could pose a dilemma for the City: ‘Conservation areas and more listed buildings will make it increasingly hard for the City to respond to change.

‘Put it in aspic and it will become an economic eunuch, a mercantile museum. Perhaps there should be a one in, one out rule – each time a new building is listed, another loses its protected status.’

Mark Boleat, policy chairman for the City of London, added: ‘We risk shooting ourselves in the foot if we preserve our 2014 City so carefully we cannot take advantage of improved environmental technologies and new developments in construction that will suit the workplace of the future.’

Developer British Land, the owner of 1 Finsbury Avenue (1984) which is on the ‘hit-list’, plans to send a report to English Heritage setting out why the last iconic 1980s office block in London’s Broadgate development should not be listed.

The AJ understands that, while British Land does not intend to flatten 1 Finsbury Avenue, the listing could impact on the extent of any alterations to the building.

The report for British Land has been penned by critic and author Ken Powell. The developer has commissioned Arup Associates to look at reworking the block.

Other schemes which could be affected include Wilkinson Eyre’s mysteriously named Prussian Blue tower proposal for 150 Leadenhall Street (1975). The practice refused to comment.

Henrietta Billings, senior conservation adviser at the Twentieth Century Society praised the new list saying: ‘This building type is often overlooked and it’s a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the best from the period. And if the new format list descriptions allows trivial alterations that don’t affect the special interest of the building, with minimal fuss, then this has to be good – not just for owners but for the credibility of the listed building consent process.’

The list in full

1. Space House, 1 Kemble Street, Kingsway (Richard Seifert)

2. Chartered Accountants’ Hall, One Moorgate Place (William Whitfield)

3. Founders Court Lothbury (Fitzroy Robinson and Partners)

4. NatWest Tower [Tower 42], 25 Old Broad Street,  (Richard Seifert)

5. Bush Lane House, 80 Cannon Street (Arup Associates)

6. 30 Cannon Street (Whinney Son & Austen Hall)

7. 150 Leadenhall Street (GMW Partnership)

8. 6-8 Bishopsgate (GMW Architects)

9. 1 Finsbury Avenue (Arup Associates)

10. IBM Pilot Head Office (Lynx House), Portsmouth (Foster and Partners)

11. Newspaper House, Oxford (Arup Associates)

12. Gateway House (Mountbatten House), Basingstoke (Arup)

13. Gateway Two (Belvedere House) Basingstoke  (Arup)

14.  Gun Wharf, Chatham (Arup)

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