Camden council passes controversial proposals with no votes against

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RSHP’s extension to the British Library has been approved by Camden council

RSHP’s controversial plans for an extension to the British Library have been given the green light.

Camden council voted seven in favour with one abstention to approve the £400m plans for a 100,000 sq m office and library block neighbouring Colin St John Wilson’s grade I-listed landmark.

The scheme will see demolition of buildings to the north of the main library, including the 2007 British Library Centre for Conservation, designed by Long & Kentish.

The replacement 12-storey building would contain just 10,000 sq m of library space, including a link to the main library and new headquarters for the Alan Turing Institute.

RSHP senior design partner Graham Stirk said the approval would see the site transformed into “the most open, creative, and innovative institution of its kind anywhere in the world”. 

“The future vision of the British Library is made possible by a state-of-the-art life-science facility that creates a vibrant synergy between a major public institution and private sector applied sciences,” he said.

Stirk added the new building would dramatically increase the library’s public functions and make it the new heart of the Knowledge Quarter, a cluster of research institutes at King’s Cross.

The developers, a JV between Stanhope and Mitsui Fudosan, secured the site by agreeing a deal with Transport for London which will see them build 5,000 sq m of shafts and passageways descending seven storeys beneath the extension for Crossrail 2.

Stanhope chief executive David Camp said the scheme would provide significant areas of new public realm and much needed new space for the British Library. 

> Also read: RSHP’s proposed British Library extension is like a bull in a china shop

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Mitsui Fudosan UK chief executive Tomoo Nakamura said Camden’s decision “recognises the importance of this scheme both for local people and for users of – and visitors to – the British Library”. 

“It also represents a great opportunity to contribute to the area’s economic success and to enable the delivery of key infrastructure,” he added.



The existing British Library

The proposals will now go to the Greater London Authority for final sign-off. They had been recommended for approval by Camden’s planning officers prior to yesterday’s meeting despite concerns over the size of the building and the relatively small amount of library space.

The planning officers’ report admitted the scheme would cause some harm but argued this would be outweighed by its benefits.

Work for the mothballed Crossrail 2, which would be carried out in case the project is revived, will include the main civils and structural elements of the Euston St Pancras Station eastern shaft and passenger subway tunnel.

Others working on the project include QS Alinea, engineer Arup and landscape architect DSDHA.

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The work includes shafts and passageways for the mothballed Crossrail 2 project