WestEndExtra

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Templar House in High Holborn must be protected

12 April, 2018

• THE residents who live in Eagle Street and Red Lion Square were not the only people to be relieved at the planning committee’s decision to refuse permission to demolish and redevelop Templar House, a 1950s neo-classical office block on High Holborn, which is identified as a positive contributor to the Blooms­bury Conservation Area, (Local people have seen off a plan to redevelop Templar House in High Holborn, April 5).

Members of Blooms­bury CAAC were happy too. The webcast of committee meetings can be useful and informative.

Although officers recommended approval, Councillor Danny Beales asked a very simple question: “The conservation area committee don’t particularly like it. The design review panel, our independent design experts, don’t like it – think it’s too high. All of those experts locally and nationally seem to have some issues with it. Yet we decided we don’t. Why?”

Why indeed? Neither Heritage England nor the GLA were in support. Councillor Flick Rea spoke eloquently when she said, “This is part of a residential area. I can’t believe we’re settling for a rather handsome, if too tall, building for four affordable flats and a quarter of a million pounds to stop us complaining about pollution.”

Following the vote as to whether the officers’ recommendation should be approved or not, Heather Johnson, the chair, said “I think that is clearly lost.” Lost for whom?

For those who would profit from the redevelopment, of course. But it was certainly welcomed by the residents who live nearby, doomed to be overshadowed by a 15-storey structure, more than doubling the height of the existing building that overlooks Eagle Street today.

It was good to see that the majority of the planning committee recognised the so-called “public benefits” did not outweigh harm to the character of the area and the destruction of a historic façade.

Templar House is a fine, beautifully detailed, early 20th-century building that defines the essential character of High Holborn. Nothing that replaced it today could be of that quality. It must be protected against developers for posterity.

DEBBIE RADCLIFFE
Bloomsbury Conservation Area Advisory Committee

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