Plans by Hugh Broughton Architects to make major alterations to the Inner Temple Treasury Building have been given the go-ahead, despite a storm of protest
Planning officers at the City of London Corporation recommended approval for the practice’s plans to create a new education and training facility at the post-war building – advice which was followed by the corporation’s planning and transportation committee yesterday (4 July).
To accommodate the extra facilities, including a 120-seat conference auditorium, the designs feature installation of a low ceiling in the 1950s building’s lauded library, removing the existing double-height galleried rooms.
A representation to the planning officers by The Twentieth Century Society said: ‘The impact of these works would be not only to entirely alter the measured proportions of the space, truncating the original plan and greatly reducing the amount of light and space, but would also involve the loss of a great deal of fine interior fabric: oak panelling and architraves, the moulded plaster ceiling and the brass candelabras, whose dramatic drop currently serves to punctuate the grand, open nature of the space.’
The society said that the library at the Inner Temple Treasury Building represented ‘one of the most sensitive post-war reconstructions in the capital’.
In a separate representation, planning barrister Richard Humphries, of No5 Chambers, said: ‘It is considered that the proposed development is a classic example of a “quart into a pint pot”: it tries to accommodate far too much on the site.’
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He added that there was also concern as to whether the scheme was financially viable and that the design of proposed dormers would not be appropriate to the character of the Temples Conservation Area.
The proposals relate to the Inner Temple Treasury Building, designed by John Hubert Worthington in 1947 to replace earlier buildings destroyed in the Second World War and completed to an amended design by TJ Sutcliffe in 1958. It comprises the Inner Temple Hall, Library and offices of the Treasury.
The planning officers’ report concluded that any harm caused by the scheme was ‘outweighed by the public benefits of the proposal, which comprise the completion of the original design for the building, and the creation of a barristers’ training centre, which would reinforce the legal character of the Inner Temple and sustain the building’s long-term use.’
In a letter of support, High Court judge the Hon Mrs Justice May said the scheme ‘represents, I believe, an admirable compromise between the understandable desire to retain a calm, gracious library space and the pressing need to expand and modernise the Inn’s education and training facility’.
Hugh Broughton said: ‘The redevelopment of the Treasury Building will create state-of-the-art training facilities for future barristers, members of the Bar and other legal professionals.
‘The designs have evolved through extensive consultation and have been meticulously conceived to enhance connections between floors and to preserve the traditional character of the building, whilst also introducing elegant and light-filled new spaces befitting a modern professional building.’