Consultation on the Redevelopment of the Museum of London Site

Future Development of Bastion House and the Museum of London.

We need your support.

I am sure that you are aware that a new larger Museum of London is being built in West Smithfield and that it had been intended to use its present site for the Centre for Music a new home for the LSO promoted by Sir Simon Rattle. This plan was recently scrapped and the Corporation will be seeking planning permission to demolish the current building to enable redevelopment of the site, now known as London Wall West.

The Barbican Association is concerned that there should be a real debate as to how the site might best meet the needs of the City of London now and well into the future.

Along with the Golden Lane Residents’ Association we sent an open letter to the Corporation requesting such a discussion.

I think the City is listening. We have received the following from them.

“We want to understand what the Barbican Association and Barbican residents, as key stakeholders, would like to see on the site. Our aim is to be genuinely inclusive and collaborative in our consultation, and to create a set of proposals for London Wall West that benefit both the local and wider community.

Starting this month and working with the Contemporary Art Society Consultancy (CASC), we will explore ideas for placemaking with local residents, key community and cultural organisations, local residents and business groups. Taking account of the site’s history and heritage as well as its location at the heart of Culture Mile, CASC will seek ideas on opportunities for cultural, commercial and public uses on London Wall West. 

Peppermint Research, a market research company, will then consult residents, workers, visitors and other groups on additional potential uses on this site, including environmental initiatives, education, public spaces for relaxing and play, offices and retail.

The feedback from this early engagement will inform the development of the designs for London Wall West. Later in the year we’ll consult both the local and wider community about these emerging designs to gain further feedback, before a final round of consultation on detailed designs in the new year. We intend to submit a planning application in 2022.”

The site, adjacent to two conservation areas, Smithfield and Barbican Golden Lane, deserves respect and imagination. We are submitting a postscript to our Open Letter which, we hope will draw attention to its importance and the opportunity to produce another development worth conserving as follows.

“In the past the Corporation of London has made inspired decisions in reaction to catastrophe.

In 1688 Christopher Wren was appointed to rebuild the City following the Fire of London. In the early 1950’s Chamberlain Powell and Bon were commissioned to design the Barbican estate following the area’s destruction in the Blitz.

Today the City has a similar opportunity to set its stamp on the 21st Century.

Brexit, Coronavirus, Climate Change and the Digital Revolution arriving at the same time will have a profound effect on the way of life in the City of London. Rather than carrying on as before the Corporation should pause and take stock.

The north west corner of the city which includes the Smithfield and the Barbican and Golden Lane Conservation Areas presents such an opportunity following the decisions to move the Market, build a new Museum of London, set up the Culture Mile and to scrap the plans for a Centre for Music.

The future of this area, rich in history, with a mix of housing, education, health, culture and hospitality as well as small scale commercial developments will benefit from enlightened thought.

Given the international significance of these conservation areas, the City needs to bring together all the different interest groups in an inclusive, forward-looking process to create a proper Blueprint; rather than simply looking at the opportunities offered by the London Wall West site following the vacation of the Museum and Bastion House.

Our ancestors left legacies of which we can be proud. We have an opportunity to leave another monument for future generations please don’t miss it.” 

We hope you can support the need for a proper debate on the future of the site as expressed in our Open letter. 

We want to know what you think. We are asking House Groups to consult. You can express your views through them or leave a message below in the comments and we will make sure that these are noted in the consultation process ahead.

And when invited please contribute to the City’s consultation.

The strong campaign on the Girls School bore fruit. Can we do it again? 

Adam Hogg     

Chair, Barbican Association


  1. The new St Alphage Highwalk has greatly improved the attractiveness of the new buildings and the Roman Wall beneath.

    Could the same thing be done with Mountjoy Close? This dead-end of a highwalk could be extended south, through or around the Museum site. This would improve the connectivity of the estate, as well as the view over the Roman Wall and any new buildings. A new highwalk here would inform the design of new buildings, as well as opening up the site.

  2. First, agree with point above about extending the highwalks into whatever is created.
    Secondly, is this not the chance to provide the girls’ school with the space it craves so that it no longer needs to think about encroaching upon the housing estate in order to develop? Any development could include “community facilities” which might be available to residents when not in use by the school. I gather this may already happen to a limited extent but any buildings or spaces could be designed with this dual purpose in mind.
    Thirdly, could we simply have a bit more open space? If Bastion House goes (as I am sure it will) then extend the garden beside Barber Surgeons to create something akin to what has been done at St Alphege. I appreciate we must have some building but do not attempt to cover every square inch of the site.
    Finally, keep roof lines down to existing levels.

    1. I second your idea to extend the gardens. Given that the existing green space joins up with the museum building this is a great opportunity to give the City of London its first park of a decent size!

    2. I agree with both proposals- the gardens are a great attraction for both residents and visitors, and they are part of what makes the Barbican a very special exception to many similar developments of the time, and one of the reasons for it being one of the very rare successful ones emerging from the era.
      The site is currently dedicated to a cultural institution, and schools are the very definition of them: It would be a meaningful investment into the City’s urban fabric, and the Barbican’s in particular, being the City’s residential anchor. The Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects may be a good and local address to consult on this matter.

  3. I regret the passing of Smithfield and the Museum of London.Both added character and city charm . In particular the highwalk and sunken garden of the Museum offered space,calm and variety, especially the mixture of the old and the new. Above all, the highwalk with its intricate spoke connections must be protected and hopefully extended. New offices or housing would add little to the area although I accept that such is the pressure that some provision for housing may be necessary. The redevelopment of Cheapside has shown the folly of creating more retail space than demand would warrant. In the same vein, more offices would be pointless. Excessive high rise buildings do not generally win the applause of Barbican residents and do we really want any more of the somewhat baffingly branded Culture Mile,whatever that means? Perhaps therefore an emphasis on space, greenness and new visual perspectives on the neighbourhood. I wonder whether the underused, partly inaccessible and under maintained Arboritem adjacent to the Arts Centre could be moved there, refreshed and given a new lease of life as a planet saving icon destination in its own right? Not that keen on blue print master plans which seek to embrace too much and achieve too little. And I cannot fathom what the Peppermint Research Group can contribute. It is hard to see from their blurb how a very niche marketing pyschology researcher can pick up on our planning concerns.
    All power to the BA for mounting this consultation initiative.

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