Griff Rhys Jones is starring a conjugation of conservationists against what he describes arsenic plans to “smother” Liverpool Street position nether 109 metres (350ft) of caller offices, shops and a hotel.
The comedian, writer and broadcaster has been appointed president of nan revived Liverpool Street Station Campaign (Lissca), a station held successful nan 1970s by nan past writer laureate Sir John Betjeman erstwhile he led a successful crusade against plans to demolish nan station.
The developers, including Network Rail and Sellar – which were some down London’s Shard, opportunity nan strategy will protect and showcase nan Grade II-listed position and Grade II*-listed erstwhile Great Eastern edifice adjacent door.
Rhys Jones, however, said this was “nonsense”. Speaking from nan hotel, he said: “They can’t heighten this situation by sticking a elephantine chapeau consecutive connected apical of it. It’s for illustration putting a elephantine clown’s chapeau connected apical of St Paul’s Cathedral.”
The strategy involves 16-storey agency blocks flanking nan station, and unit abstraction and a edifice supra it.
Rhys Jones said: “What they’re readying to do is extremist and unprecedented – taking a world-class monument and alternatively of destroying it, they’re simply burying it. They’re putting 16-storey buildings correct connected apical of it. This is going to wholly change nan characteristic of Liverpool Street station. It’s conscionable smothering it.”
Rhys Jones questioned nan rationale for nan scheme, which nan developers opportunity is needed to amended entree to nan station. “It’s an exploitative, opportunistic strategy for making a immense magnitude of money. They’re trying it connected each levels. People request to look very cautiously astatine nan expected request for this because nan existent need, for illustration nan Shard, is Network Rail making money.”
The Lissca run has been rekindled aft a uncommon show of unity from disparate conservation groups successful guidance to what they see to beryllium insensitive and harmful plans.
Rhys Jones said: “I americium only adding a sound to an bonzer unity of concern. All nan awesome practice assemblage bodies are appalled by what is proposed. They each want to sphere a superb London landmark. I person seldom seen specified uniformity.”
The run unites 8 conservation groups led by nan Victorian Society, and includes nan Georgian Group, nan Twentieth Century Society and Save Britain’s Heritage.
The plans, by Herzog & de Meuron, nan Swiss architects down nan Tate Modern and nan National Stadium successful Beijing, impact converting immoderate of nan erstwhile Great Eastern hotel, now nan Andaz hotel, into offices. As portion of nan strategy a precocious listed 1990s train shed linking a Victorian portion of nan position pinch nan listed edifice would beryllium partially demolished.
Rhys Jones describes Liverpool Street arsenic “my London station” arsenic he often uses it to recreation from his location successful Suffolk to nan capital. He is hoping different celebrities will subordinate nan reformed Lissca. “In nan 1970s nan committee members included Betjeman, [the historian] Sir Nikolaus Pevsner and [the comedian] Spike Milligan. They preserved these spaces for america backmost then. We dream that akin giants will subordinate america 50 years on. It seems unbelievable to maine that we request to renew their fight.”
In a statement, Lissca said it feared that if nan strategy was fixed readying support “it would group a unspeakable precedent which would mean nary listed building is safe from harm”.
The Georgian Group said nan strategy would discuss nan salient portion St Paul’s Cathedral has played successful London’s skyline. Historic Buildings & Places said it would “destroy 1 of nan past cohesive Victorian streetscapes successful this portion of nan metropolis of London”. And nan Twentieth Century Society said it would “permanently disfigure this iconic gateway to London”.
Rhys Jones said he was not against modern buildings and that he liked galore of London’s newest skyscrapers. But he added: “They cannot beryllium done by destroying nan communicative of London. I’m doing it for my grandchildren’s grandchildren. And we request to sphere what we cognize to beryllium nan existent exemplars of our history – there’s thing much important than nan railway age, which tells nan communicative of Britain.”
The campaigners person besides launched a petition saying “developers’ greed cannot trump commuter need”.
A spokesperson for nan developers, including Sellar and Network Rail, said: “The position that nan Victorian Society campaigned to prevention successful nan 1970s nary longer exists arsenic overmuch of it was demolished successful nan 1980s. Our attack prioritises protecting and enhancing nan remaining practice elements, some wrong nan Andaz edifice and nan position itself.
“The Victorian elements of nan position are not being demolished. We are moving intimately pinch cardinal stakeholders to effort and sensitively merge nan commercialized elements of nan project, which yet unlock nan overmuch needed £450m of infrastructure improvements which will alleviate important entree and overcrowding issues, whilst delivering basal rider capacity and customer facilities, astatine nary costs to nan payer aliases train passengers.
“Our proposals will guarantee Liverpool Street station’s early arsenic a awesome carrier hub and create a caller seven-days-a-week destination for nan City.”