Migration Museum gets new home in Square Mile as refugee developer stumps up 60-years rent-free space
A multi-million pound development in the Square Mile will give a new home to the Migration Museum and provide hundreds of affordable apartments.
65 Crutched Friars near Tower Hill will be transformed into a 21-storey state-of-the-art site and has been granted 60-years rent-free space by the developer.
Dubbed “Britain’s gateway to the world for thousands of years” by the museum’s chief executive, the Square Mile was seen as the perfect place for the cultural institution, which tells the story of the movement of people to and from the UK.
The museum educates about how migration has shaped the country and capital right until today, with educational exhibitions and activities about modern British life also.
Moving from Lewisham, the new museum will be based across three floors of the site and include an event space, cafe and shop.
This comes after the City of London corporation announced a £2.5m annual investment into the Square Mile post-pandemic to help its economic recovery. ‘Destination City’ includes putting on events, and backing cultural organisations to attract more tourism and make the Square Mile a more leisure-friendly environment.
The application by real estate firm Dominus was approved by the Corporation’s planning committee this week. The developer, a firm owned by Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia who fled Idi Amin’s Uganda as a refugee, agreed to give the museum rent-free space for 60 years, cover its operating costs and donate half-a-million pounds to support fundraising efforts.
As well as the museum, the site at 65 Crutched Friars includes studio apartments and student accommodation. Overall, the 21-storey building will include 769 rooms, with 35 per cent being affordable housing.
Speaking to City A.M., the museum was unable to put an exact figure on the project, but said it is estimated to cost £15m overall, according to one of its trustees, who had delivered on multiple capital projects.
It added that they intend to remain in Lewisham until at least 2025/26, and the new site would hopefully be ready by the earliest, 2027.
“We are delighted to have secured this opportunity for a permanent home for the Migration Museum,” said Sophie Henderson, CEO of the museum.
“We are creating Britain’s missing museum, exploring how the movement of people to and from the City, London and the UK has shaped who we all are today.”
“There is no more fitting location for the Migration Museum than in the heart of the City of London, Britain’s gateway to the world for thousands of years.”
City of London Corporation Planning Applications Sub-Committee chairman Shravan Joshi said: “This development will bring new life to the eastern part of the City and an economic boost to the Square Mile.
“We carefully considered, including through an independent review, the possibility of retaining this site for office use, whether through refurbishing or rebuilding, but our conclusion was that such a scheme would not be financially viable, therefore a change of use was appropriate in this case.”