The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

C20 Society’s Vision for Wood Street Police Station to be Realised

Wood Street Police Station

Wood Street Police Station

Photo: Wendy Akers

We have welcomed plans to turn the Grade II* listed Wood Street Police Station in the City of London into a boutique 5-star hotel.

C20 Society Director Catherine Croft said: “This is one of the finest post war classical buildings in London and the only listed post war police station in the country.  We are delighted that its future looks set to be secured with this sympathetic conservation led refurbishment scheme.

“For many years sticking to the original use was seen as the best option in conservation terms for listed buildings, but this is a clear example where the opposite was very much the case.  Here, as at the old USA Embassy in Grosvenor Square, it was the need for enhanced security measures, as well as extra floor space, which meant that moving elsewhere and allowing a new owner to reimagine the building for a more compatible use, was the best way forward.”

Wood Street Police Station

Photo: Wendy Akers

The City of London Police Force had originally planned to consolidate all operations within Wood Street.  As a result a number of proposals were made to increase office space which included a damaging extension to the building’s tower with a glazed link at each level, marring the north elevation and undermining the careful balance and legibility of the built ensemble.

The C20 Society voiced strong objections pointing out that the building would be better conserved through a change of use, suggesting from the outset that it had the potential to make a fantastic boutique hotel and asking Assael Architecture to draw up plans to show how this could be achieved.

Since then plans have been announced to build a new flagship combined courts facility and state-of-the-art headquarters for the City of London Police at Fleet Street and as a result the Wood Street Police Station was put up for sale.

The new owner is Wood Street Hotel Ltd (wholly owned by Magnificent Hotels) which has submitted plans for a 216-room luxury heritage hotel. Key physical interventions include a glazed canopy over the original external courtyard to create a fully accessible new focal public space with a bar/café, a modest two storey bedroom extension to the north of the tower, clad in stone and detailed to match the existing building. The police cells area will be refurbished as a whisky bar and tasting rooms, retaining the cell doors and glass block windows while the stables will be refurbished as a restaurant, retaining all original significant features.  There will also be a leisure facility with gym, swimming pool, steam room, sauna and spa.

Wood Street Police Station was built to the designs of the practice McMorran and Whitby, a post-war practice that worked in a classical idiom. It is recognised as their finest building.

The police station has been studied in the Twentieth Century Society monograph publication by Edward Denison where it is described as ‘the greatest success of McMorran’s lifetime’, of Italianate composition but rooted firmly in Britain and the twentieth century.