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Government: 'Concert hall complex on Museum of London site is feasible'

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Proposals to redevelop the current Museum of London site as a new home for the London Symphony Orchestra have been supported by a government-sponsored feasibility study

The plans, which depend on the museum’s move to a new home at West Smithfield, would see its existing base at the south-east edge of the Barbican Centre replaced with a new Centre for Music complex for the orchestra.

Plans for a commercial-led redevelopment of Smithfield were rejected by then-communities secretary Eric Pickles last year.

Mark Boleat, the City of London Corporation’s policy and resources chairman, has revealed that a feasibility study funded by HM Treasury and London Mayor Boris Johnson backs the proposals’ further development.

‘This study has now been completed and has concluded that it is indeed feasible for such a centre to be located on the present Museum of London site at London Wall,’ he said.

‘These two developments, occurring together, provide a unique opportunity that should be pursued.’

Addressing the City of London’s Common Council, Boleat said the Museum of London’s plans for a new home at West Smithfield’s General Market and Red House, would free up the museum’s present site.

‘The Centre for Music would not only provide a space for superb performance, but would also promote learning, education and discovery for all,’ he said.

‘There is support in principle for these proposals from government, the GLA and other organisations such as the Arts Council. It is only right, given our heritage, that the City of London does all it can to be part of this ambition including providing significant funding.

‘We are now moving to a stage where ambition needs to be turned into viable plans. With our partners in these projects we are working towards realistic estimates of the costs of different elements of the project and potential funding strategies.’

Boleat said the venue would form part of the City’s wider ‘cultural hub’ vision, but cautioned that the challenge of delivering each element of the scheme should not be under-estimated.

‘This is a generational opportunity to shape part of our city and bring back into use a market site that has been derelict for far too long, as well as regenerating the dated rotunda layout at London Wall,’ he said.

Sir Simon Rattle, who will become musical director of the London Symphony Orchestra from 2017, has previously spoken critically of the quality of London’s performance venues.

The Conservative Party manifesto for May’s General Election included a pledge to support ‘proposals to develop a modern world class concert hall for London’.

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