Councillors prevented from making a decision on Diller Scofidio & Renfro and Sheppard Robson scheme at planning committee meeting this morning

Diller Barbican 2

Diller Scofidio & Renfro and Sheppard Robson’s plans for the former Museum of London site

Michael Gove has blocked a decision on the City’s plans to redevelop the former Museum of London hours before the scheme was set to be approved.

The communities secretary issued an Article 31 Holding Direction yesterday, preventing councillors from making a decision on the proposals in a scheduled planning committee meeting taking place this morning.

Councillors are currently discussing an application to demolish the former Museum of London and the neighbouring Bastion House to make way for an office scheme designed by Diller Scofidio & Renfro and Sheppard Robson.

Gove’s last-minute move means that while the committee will be able to indicate its view on the application, which has been recommended for approval by the City’s planning officers, it will not be able to either approve or refuse it. 

An Article 31 Holding Direction temporarily freezes the planning process for a scheme, allowing the secretary of state time to decide whether to call it in.

The Museum of London scheme has been highly controversial, with the application amassing nearly 1,000 objections from members of the public and campaigners ahead of its planning committee hearing.

Concerns raised by those opposing the scheme include the embodied carbon impact of redeveloping the site and the heritage impact of losing the existing 1970s buildings, both designed by RIBA Gold Medal-winning practice Powell & Moya, as well as its impact on the neighbouring Barbican Estate.

The proposals would see three new buildings constructed, a 17-storey office called New Bastion House, a 14-storey office called the Rotunda Building and a smaller five-storey office providing combined office space of 56,000sq m.

The Rotunda, a raised walkway above a roundabout which connects the former museum to surrounding streets, would also be redeveloped and replaced by a ‘peninsula’ traffic system which would loop around one of the proposed office buildings.

Other elements of the scheme include 8,200 sq m of cultural space across a series of plazas and gardens, including a public roof garden at the new Rotunda Building, and 1,100 sq m of food and beverage space.