Major heritage fight on cards after government watchdog remains unmoved by revised proposals

The government’s own heritage watchdog has said it still opposes Sellar’s £1.5bn plan to overhaul Liverpool Street station – paving the way for a major heritage battle in the coming months.

The developer and Network Rail shared updated proposals at a public consultation last week ahead of the scheme being submitted for planning this April.

Heritage groups have lined up to condemn the plans drawn up by Swiss architect Herzog & de Meuron and which will include a 109m-tall office block above the station and adjoining Andaz Hotel, previously known as the Great Eastern.

The designs have been updated in response to the first public consultation last November, which prompted criticism from heritage groups and led to Historic England expanding the station’s grade II listing to include some elements of the 20th century rebuild, while upgrading the hotel’s listing status to grade II*.


Source: Sellar/HdM

Heritage groups say Herzog & de Meuron’s planned commercial block (left) will dwarf the grade II* listed hotel below it

The Shard developer has assured campaigners that the original Victorian elements of the site and a substantial part of the trainshed roofs will not be demolished, while the updated designs for the scheme have pushed back the massing of the over-station development to make it less prominent over the facade of the Andaz.

But Historic England said the tweaks have done nothing to alter its opposition to the scheme and that when the plans go in to City planners this spring the group will be “strongly objecting”.

In a statement to Building, it said: “We remain very concerned about the emerging proposals to redevelop London’s Liverpool Street Station, shared [last] week by Network Rail and its development partner, Sellar. We would still be looking to make a strong objection if such a scheme were taken forward to a planning application.”

It added: “The scheme would trample on the former Great Eastern Hotel. The sheer bulk of development proposed above the station and the hotel is so large that it is likely to encroach on views of some of London’s great landmarks, including those of St Paul’s Cathedral protected under the London Views Management Framework.”

Sellar and Network Rail have said the development can do for Liverpool Street what work at other transport hubs in the capital has done for their surrounds.

But Historic England rubbished the suggestion and added: “The scheme includes improvements to railway infrastructure but these are not comparable with recent successes at London Bridge, King’s Cross and St Pancras stations, where the special heritage of various buildings has been showcased and celebrated. Unlike at those stations, the improvements offered by the scheme at Liverpool Street station would only be achieved at heavy cost to the character of one of London’s most valued public buildings.”


The work will include a £450m upgrade of the station itself

The group’s chief executive Duncan Wilson, who attended the first consultation in person, said: “At Historic England we are in favour of development where it secures a sustainable future for our best public and private buildings. This scheme does not. We continue to hope that collaboration with Network Rail and Sellar can achieve a better outcome for this special place.”

The scheme would see the demolition of much of the existing station, which was built in the 1980s in Victorian style after a successful campaign against proposals for a more dramatic redevelopment.

As well as more than one million sq ft of mixed-use space above the station, the station itself will be upgraded at a cost of around £450m. This will include a new two-level concourse, nearly doubling floorspace, new public realm and new lifts, escalators and ticket barriers.

Another heritage critic, the Victorian Society, also said it was “disappointed to see only minor tweaks to the massing of the tower” in the plans put on display last week.

Its director Joe O’Donnell added: “In a perhaps unprecedented move, the grade II* hotel would have a tower cantilevered over the top of it using experimental building methods. Furthermore, the majority of the hotel would lose its original function and become closed office space no longer accessible to the public.

“This scheme clearly harms heritage. So far, no information has been released to show that this huge commercial profit driven scheme is the only viable way to make passenger improvements to Liverpool Street station.”

Another heritage opponent Save Britain’s Heritage has previously said the scene is set for another “huge conservation battle” and that it “is deeply concerned about the impact that the redevelopment plans and [the development above] would have on the listed station buildings and former Great Eastern Hotel”.

Sellar development director Barry Ostle said last month, before the latest plans were put on public display, that “we’ve been listening to views of the City, to other architectural commentators and I think the scheme that will emerge in terms of the public consultation will have responded to people’s views that have come through over the last couple of months and I think you will see some fantastic enhancements to it”.

He added: “What is emerging is a building that I would describe as having an extremely calm, almost serene feel to it that would sit in a very respectful counter-position to the Victorian building.”

Under Sellar’s timetable, work could start in the second half of next year with the job being completed in 2029.

Others working on the Liverpool Street deal include cost consultant and project manager G&T, engineer WSP and landscape firm Townshend. Mace is providing pre-construction advice.