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SAVE Britain's Heritage started this petition to Robert Jenrick (Secretary of state for housing, communities and local government)

This delightful group of buildings represent a period in early 20th century London when Fleet Street was the heart of Britain's publishing industry - giving character and life to one of the capital's most historic streets.

Save Fleet Street from destruction and call-in the plans for public inquiry.

Why is this important?

At a special planning committee meeting on 22nd April 2021, the Corporation of London granted itself planning permission to demolish Nos.72-78 and 80-81 Fleet Street and four other unlisted buildings in the Fleet Street Conservation Area.

Their loss will be hugely detrimental to the conservation area, the surrounding listed buildings, and will substantially harm one of London’s most historic thoroughfares – the centuries old processional route from St Paul’s Cathedral to Buckingham Palace.

SAVE Britain's Heritage now calls on the Secretary of State Robert Jenrick to call the plans in for examination at a public inquiry, given the nationally significant nature of the proposals and the fact that the City of London Corporation is both the landowner, applicant and the statutory decision body in this case.

Historic thoroughfare

Fleet Street has been synonymous with Britain’s rich newspaper and printing history since the 16th century, and is one of London’s most historic thoroughfares, dating back to Roman times. The buildings to be demolished are an integral part of Fleet Street’s lively commercial architecture, a mixture of impressive banks and newspaper premises, which remains remarkably unchanged since the Second World War.

All six buildings to be demolished are protected by both national and local planning policy as non-designated heritage assets within a designated conservation area. The City’s own planning policy identifies them as Unlisted Buildings of Merit which contribute positively to the character and appearance of the conservation area.

The proposed design of the replacement buildings does not respect the City's heritage and local distinctiveness. The monolithic bulk of the new buildings is out of scale and detrimental to this historic quarter, whilst the new courts building fronting onto Fleet Street would be required (for security reasons) to have a featureless blank wall at street level, deadening the currently lively scene of shops, bars and cafes.

The historic buildings to be demolished include:

  1. Nos. 72-78 Fleet Street, known as Chronicle House, is an impressive classical style office building designed and built in 1924 for the newspaper trade by Hebert, Ellis & Clarke using Portland stone and cast concrete. 
  2. Nos. 80-81 Fleet Street is an elegant Baroque style former bank building (Barclays Bank) dating from 1924, built in Portland stone with grey granite cladding to designs by the architects C.J. Dawson, Son and Allardyce.
  3. No.1 Salisbury Square is an elegant, five storey early Georgian town house carefully rebuilt in 1962 following war damage that illustrates the type of buildings that once surrounded Salisbury Square in the 18th and 19th centuries. Salisbury Square can be traced back to the medieval period as the former Great Court of the Bishop of Salisbury’s palace.
  4. No. 8 Salisbury Court is a narrow five storey former warehouse dating from the late 19th or early 20th century.
  5. Nos. 36-38 Whitefriars Street is a narrow fronted, early 20th century red brick office building in a plain classical style.
  6. No. 35 Whitefriars Street is a Queen Anne style public house designed by B. Wilkinson in 1895-97, who’s richly designed Victorian façade remains intact. The City of London extended the conservation area boundaries in 2007 to include both these buildings.

At the planning committee meeting, City of London Councillors acknowledged the loss of these buildings and the harm caused to the conservation area would be regrettable and that the City “could do better”, yet still approved the demolition plans. 

This case has triggered national interest and controversy, including strong objections from Historic England, the Twentieth Century Society, the Victorian Society and SAVE, as well as numerous individual objectors from across the country. 

We call upon Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to call-in these plans for public inquiry so that the destruction proposed on this historic thoroughfare can be independently assessed, and the proposals robustly scrutinised. Historic buildings are an irreplaceable asset to this part of the City and should be protected and celebrated as such.

For more information and images of the plans, see our press release HERE.

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