CULTURE secretary Jeremy Hunt will not save the Broadgate estate from demolition, City A.M. can reveal, marking a victory for our campaign against bureaucrats that wanted to protect the site.
Hunt is expected to announce today that he is rejecting advice from conservation body English Heritage, which recommended that the 1980s complex be awarded with Grade II* listed status.
The move will allow investment bank UBS to press ahead with plans to build a new £340m headquarters on the site of two buildings that are earmarked for demolition.
A source close to the process said Hunt disagreed with English Heritage’s opinion that Broadgate represented “outstanding quality” in terms of its architecture or historical interest.
The source added the culture secretary had listened to our campaign. His decision was based on the building’s architectural merits and historical factors alone.
The campaign attracted the support of several influential Tories such as Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who described English Heritage’s call for the site to be listed as “ludicrous”.
Lord Wolfson, the Conservative peer and chief executive of retailer Next, also threw his weight behind our calls for the culture secretary to dismiss the conservation group’s advice, warning that “unthinking bureaucracy is fossilising the UK”.
Mark Field, the MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, whose constituency is home to the Broadgate estate, also backed our calls to allow it to be redeveloped.
The City of London Corporation had given planning permission for the new 700,000 sq ft UBS building, which is being built by British Land and designed by Ken Shuttleworth, one of the architects behind the Gherkin.
English Heritage threatened to scupper the redevelopment, after it said the existing buildings should be listed because they were a “triumph of urbanism”.