Simon Thurley attacks government plan to allow the demolition of listed buildings, saying it could lead to the demise of the Royal Festival Hall and the British Museum.

The head of English Heritage has attacked the government over its plan to change the law to allow the demolition of listed buildings.

The controversial government plans - designed to make it possible to demolish the Grade II-listed Commonwealth Institute in Kensington, London - were leaked last week.

English Heritage chief executive Simon Thurley labelled the plans a "proposal for a demolishers' charter" and said it could lead to the demolition of historic listed buildings such as London Zoo, the Royal Festival Hall and the British Museum.

"Historically priceless buildings occupying valuable sites everywhere would be put at risk from demolition if it could be shown that maximum profit could be achieved for any good cause."

Thurley said the proposal undermined the fundamental principle that the country's valuable cultural architecture was worth keeping.

Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon has been a proponent of de-listing the Commonwealth Institute, saying it would free up funds for education programmes for 75 million Commonwealth children.

McKinnon last year called the building the "Millennium Dome of the 1960s" and said it served no purpose.

Thurley will meet with minister for culture, David Lammy, to discuss the government's proposal and its implications for heritage protection.