The late 17th-century Strand buildings slated for demolition have received a stay of execution after a government intervention.
New communities secretary Greg Clark has issued a ‘holding direction’, suspending the planning permission granted for King’s College London’s overhaul of its Strand campus.
The move buys the government some time as it considers holding a public inquiry into architect Hall McKnight’s plans for the university, chiefly the controversial removal of historic properties at 154-158 Strand for a new teaching building.
Clem Cecil, director of campaign group SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said: ‘We see these buildings as quintessentially London. They make up the connective tissue of the Strand, one of the most historic streets in the country.’
Others, including the Victorian Society, have also slammed Westminster City Council’s decision to grant demolition consent, while a petition set up by SAVE Britain’s Heritage has almost 9,000 signatures.
But King’s College London maintains it has respected the planning process, meeting with politicians, local groups and heritage organisations before making an application. ‘We took all the feedback we received on our draft plans into consideration before submitting our final application,’ said a spokesperson.
‘We also noted that planning consent had been granted on two previous occasions in 1992 and 1998 for the demolition of the unlisted properties at 154-158 Strand and demolition and reconstruction behind the façade of the listed properties at 152-153 Strand.’