London Wall West Consulation

Proposals  for London Wall West – make your views known by 31 December 2021

London Wall West is the area  which currently houses  Bastion House, a 1970s office building, and the Museum of London, which will be moving to Smithfield Market.

Following the decision not to proceed with the Centre for Music, the City of London  Corporation has produced early proposals on how the site might be developed. These proposals can be found on the website www.londonwallwest.co.uk.

The Barbican Association (BA) has already questioned the need to demolish rather than refurbish the existing buildings; how the decision is consistent with the City’s climate action strategy ; and whether there is demand for a further large office-led development. We shall continue to make these arguments. However  we are where, we are. It is  vital that residents comment on the proposals at this  stage as we seek  to make changes before they go before the Planning Committee in  Spring 2022.

The BA is strongly opposed to  the excessive height and scale  of the three new buildings. Building 1 on the Bastion House site would, at 17 floors, be three floors higher than the existing building with a much larger footprint. Building 2 on the rotunda, at 14 floors, would be more than double the height of buildings  on Aldersgate Street to the immediate  south. We estimate that the square footage of the new buildings is  at least four times larger than the existing ones, all designated for office use. The arguments we urge residents to consider when responding are:

The  proposals pay scant regard to the nature of the Barbican Estate and its residential community, including other residents in the immediate vicinity.

The  proposed  buildings are significantly larger in height and scale than both the existing buildings and also those towards St. Martins-Le-Grand. They  appear to project further to the north and south  of the existing Bastion House, negatively affecting Monkwell Square, the existing public gardens and the historic London Wall.

The   proposals are at odds with the conservation area status and open spaces, heritage, and architecture of the Barbican. In particular, the new buildings will completely fill the view north from St. Martins-Le-Grand blocking current views of a Barbican Tower against the skyline.

They will detrimentally affect access to day- and sun-light of those living nearby and add significantly to light pollution.

The public realm and community aspects of the proposals raise issues of  footfall , noise, security, maintenance, and existing access by vehicles. We are concerned that the lives of residents throughout the Estate could be severely affected.

Please make your views known through the website  www.londonwallwest.co.uk,  and also by emailing  at LondonWallWest@barbican.org.uk , or phoning on 0800 082 0464 .

Remember the consultation closes on 31 December 2021

1 comment

  1. Some Thoughts on the Future of London Wall West (emailed to City of London on 31 Jan 2022).
    I have read with interest The City’s document TheFuture of London Wall West of December 2021, and agree with Andrew Meyers’introductory statement that this is an excellent opportunity to regenerate thesite in line with a number of challenges which are clearly set out in the document.
    My thoughts include:
    1.  The findings of the consultation exercise so far are clearly set out in the document, but not all are reflected in the current plans. It will be vital to show, as discussion proceeds, how they will be met. If some are deemed impracticable and/or undesirable, there must be a clear and well-argued statement of the reasons with opportunities provided for objections by residents and other stakeholders to be sympathetically considered;
    2.  A closely related point: overall, many of the proposals for improving the environment have a “motherhood and apple pie” and perhaps naively over-optimistic feel. This is inevitable at this early stage.There will need to be a rigorous and transparent process for reporting, assessment and review of plans and progress which again involves resident and other stakeholders;
    3.  I think we must accept the expert advice that any affordable attempt to bring the present buildings on the site, BastionHouse and the Museum of London, up to present occupational standards would not succeed;
    4.  One regards with suspicion the statement that a significant aim is to “contribute to the funding required for the new Museumof London”. The temptation could be to maximise the funds at the expense of environmental improvements. An effective, transparent and independent process should be introduced to assess and monitor how this requirement is being met with powers to judge whether and when alternative methods of funding the Museum should be sought to ensure regeneration of the LWW site is not degraded. This is particularly important because, sadly, major projects tend to exceed their budgets;
    5.  The contention that the “public realm” is “unwelcoming and difficult to navigate” is exaggerated. Comparatively simple solutions, such as extending the existing highwalk network, would have a major role in facilitating attractive pedestrian access to St Paul’s, the river, Bank and other points south. See also para 8 below;
    6.  The highwalk system is an excellent exampleof skilful and sympathetic separation of vehicle and pedestrian traffic. It is important to maintain, improve and extend it as a vital artery as well as a means of accessing the “Roman” wall and other currently difficult to visit attractions and new “green spaces”;
    7.  The proposal for “stunning” architecture is meaninglessly shrill and vacuous. Too many building projects (eg Nine Elms, the monstrosity on Blackfriars Bridge) have been introduced piecemeal with no overall vision for how buildings relate to each other, or affect existing sight-lines. The design of the three newbuildings should, unlike Bastion House, acknowledge, refer to and incorporate architectural aspects of the Barbican of which they will be an integral part. Existing sight-lines and access to daylight and sunlight for local residents should be preserved, and accordingly the buildings should be considerably smaller (lower, less bulky and with a greatly reduced footprint) than currently proposed;        8.  The prime purpose of the new buildings should be to provide affordable accommodation for essential workers, many of whom have been driven out of the area by high costs. The contention that more office space is required in the City is surely flawed. There should also be provision for incorporating cafes, small local shops etc into the design, to make the“public realm” livelier and more “welcoming”. The scope for including space fo rthe City of London Girls’ School should also be seriously considered;
    9.  There has been some opposition to including “cultural activities” in the plans. So far as I’m concerned, the more such activities the better so long as they are well planned and supervised.
     I shall be grateful if you will keep me informed of the outcome of the consultation, and future progress.
    Thank you, 
    Simon Ricketts, 92 Shakespeare Tower; shmricketts@gmail.com
    31 Jan 2022

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