South London hub threatened with partial demolition to make way for 30-storey tower

The Twentieth Century Society is to appeal to the secretary of state against Historic England’s decision not to list Southwark Tube station.

The body says it is “alarmed” that the government’s heritage adviser (HE) did not assess the whole building, but just the bit that is threatened with demolition.

It has engaged a barrister to prepare their case, which will go to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

HE’s decision not to list the Richard MacCormac-designed station paves the way for the ticket hall to be demolished. TfL and developer U+I are said to be preparing a planning application for a 30-storey tower to be built on the site.

Because the 1999 station is younger than 30 years old it would ordinarily have to be listable at grade II* or above to qualify for protection.

HE said the station, part of the fabled Jubilee Line extension family of stations commissioned by TfL architect Roland Paoletti, was a high-quality piece of work but that this did not extend to the ticket hall. This is the part under threat.

Tess Pinto, conservation adviser at C20, said: “Southwark Tube station is under 30 years old, and in most cases buildings of this age must be both under threat and of outstanding quality to be listed.

“In the DCMS listing report, Historic England accepts the presence of a genuine threat and the station is praised in no uncertain terms; it is described as ‘exceptional’. Crucially, the report recognises that although comprised of different areas over changing levels, Southwark was designed as an entity and constitutes a complete building. 

“The decision not to list the station on the basis that the ticket hall is not of a high enough calibre in itself is therefore not only a judgement that we disagree with in architectural terms, but one which we find alarming in terms of process.

“Taking the reasoning applied within the report to its extreme, it is the equivalent of ruling that if one wall of a building is under threat, it is only that one wall which can qualify for listing. This sets a worrying precedent and will be the basis of our challenge.”

The current managing director of MJP Architects (MacCormac’s practice) said the developer should be forced to reconstruct the ticket hall.

Historic England said the station did not meet the “exceptionally high bar” for listing buildings less than 30 years old. It said: “The intermediate concourse and relationship with the lower concourse may have a high level of special interest, but along with the Waterloo East interchange, are not under threat and cannot be recommended for listing at this time.

“The entrance hub and rotunda on Blackfriars Road are not quite of the same very high calibre architecturally, aesthetically or functionally as the intermediate concourse and its approach from below.”

In parallel, a campaign co-ordinated by Save Britain’s Heritage is calling on culture secretary Karen Bradley to commission new research assessing the architectural value of all 11 modern Jubliee Line tube stations.

A supporting letter to The Times was signed by architects Will Alssop, responsible for North Greenwich Station; Michael and Patty Hopkins (Westminster) Ian Ritchie (Bermondsey); and Chris Wilkinson and Jim Eyre (Stratford).