British Land and Blackstone risk new heritage battle while unveiling new public realm plans for City complex

The owners of Broadgate have sought to prevent renewed attempts to protect the 1980s complex by applying for a certificate of immunity from listing.

British Land and Blackstone today submitted a planning application to transform Broadgate’s popular Circle under designs drawn up by Arup Associates.

However, in a move which could reignite last year’s furious heritage battle over Broadgate, the owners have also sought a five-year guarantee from English Heritage that the quango will not attempt to list the circle or the buildings around it.

Last year, British Land was given the green light by the government to demolish two of the Broadgate buildings, designed by the late architect Peter Foggo, to make way for a huge new headquarters for bank UBS designed by Make Architects.

The decision was opposed by English Heritage, the Twentieth Century Society and Sir Stuart Lipton, the original developer of Broadgate.

Adrian Penfold, British Land’s head of planning told today’s Times that it was simply seeking formal confirmation of a decision “that had already been made”.

He added that Britsh Land had waited before applying for a certificate of immunity because it wanted to reveal how Arup Associates’ designs could enhance the experience of visitors.

This will include the retention of the ice rink which the circle is converted into every winter along with new restaurants and retail spaces and leisure uses such as a health and fitness centre.

British Land head of offices, said: “The proposals for Broadgate Circle are designed to enhance the public amenity and structure at the heart of Broadgate, whilst preserving its essential character. 

“It represents a significant investment and improvement in the public realm to create a much livelier and active social and civic space. The stronger retail element will allow more people to linger and enjoy and interact with the space and performances and activities in the Circle.”

English Heritage told The Times that it was “broadly comfortable” with the news plans while The Twentieth Century Society said it would be objecting to the immunity applications.