We are pleased to report that Westminster City Council’s planning committee deferred a decision on the proposals by London Underground to convert their headquarters building at 55 Broadway into residential apartments. The grounds for deferral echoed the Society’s objections to the scheme by advising that office use should be retained and the intrusive pavilions proposed for the 10th floor be abandoned.
55 Broadway is a nationally significant heritage asset designed by Charles Holden and is listed at Grade I. The high listing grade of this building emphasises its rarity, architectural value and highlights its historical value as London Underground Limited’s Headquarters building. Any proposals to alter or change the use of the building therefore need to be considered in relation to its exceptional heritage value.
London Underground submitted an application to Westminster City Council to convert the building, as they no longer need to use the entire building for their offices. We believe that the office use should be retained: this building was designed as offices and has been so used for over eighty years. We believe that its best use remains its original use as offices for London Underground.
We were not only concerned about the change of use. We objected to the proposal to add rooftop extensions to the tenth floor, as they were overly extensive and a hugely unsympathetic intervention. Our particular concern was that they would change the profile of the building and alter the skyline. The shape of the building is a vital aspect of the design, as with many of Holden’s works.
This is an iconic building, part of London Transport’s pioneering project to embrace good design across all aspects of its business. We will continue to monitor the applications on the building to ensure that any revised proposals are sympathetic to this extremely important heritage asset.