The poet John Betjeman’s marketing campaign to avoid wasting Liverpool Road station is being revived as a result of plans to construct places of work, retailers and a resort over the listed constructing, which conservationists say will wreck its character.
The late poet laureate had a ardour for railway structure and led a profitable campaign within the Nineteen Seventies towards plans to demolish the station. Now his Liverpool Road station marketing campaign is being reformed by the Victorian Society and different conservation teams in response to a brand new £1.5bn plan to redevelop the station.
In an interview with the Observer in 1975, a 12 months after the marketing campaign first started, Betjeman mentioned he was decided that Liverpool Road shouldn’t be changed by the “slabs and cubes of excessive finance”. He added: “That is London’s most picturesque terminus.”
The Victorian Society says such issues have grow to be related once more.
A consortium together with Sellar, the developer of London’s Shard, and Community Rail has submitted plans to construct 15 and 10-storey workplace blocks flanking the station and retail area, and a resort that seems to be above it.
The plans additionally contain changing among the listed former Nice Japanese resort, now the Andaz resort, into places of work.
The builders say the designs by Herzog & de Meuron, the architects of Tate Trendy and the Olympic stadium in Beijing, will adapt and defend the station’s heritage.
However the authorities’s heritage company, Historic England, mentioned it was “deeply involved” in regards to the plans. And the Victorian Society, a charity which campaigns for nineteenth century and Edwardian buildings, says the redevelopment will “irreparably harm its character and architectural and historic significance”.
The society factors out that the plans contain destroying the station’s Victorian-style roof and entrances. It says the brand new roof to assist the brand new towers will trigger “severe hurt to the listed buildings and their settings”.
On Wednesday, its director, Joe O’Donnell, mentioned: “At present, I’m approaching organisations throughout the heritage sector to reform the Liverpool Road station marketing campaign led by Sir John Betjeman, which efficiently defeated British Rail’s proposals to demolish all of the buildings at Liverpool Road station.
“We’re hoping that the widespread assist that noticed off the full demolition of the station and its substitute with a brutalist complicated within the Nineteen Seventies will likely be as soon as once more as efficient.”
In his 1975 interview, Betjeman mentioned: “Outdated stations are locations of nice pleasure due to greetings, and nice disappointment due to partings. They’re a part of the lives of a nation.”
Liverpool Road station additionally featured in one in every of Betjeman’s poems, A Thoughts’s Journey to Diss. It started: “Pricey Mary, Sure, it will likely be bliss / To go along with you by practice to Diss / Your strolling footwear upon your toes / We’ll meet, my candy, at Liverpool Road.”
O’Donnell urged folks to reply to a public session in regards to the plans. However he added: “This session provides no alternative to contemplate much less dangerous choices.” He additionally accused the builders of utilizing “deceptive” photos that “gray out” the proposed towers to make them look “semi-transparent”.
He added: “Reasonably than a delicate response to listed buildings in a conservation space, the proposals seem like an try and maximise business return by making a procuring centre dressed-up as a public amenity area over the station.
“We hope reforming the Liverpool Road station marketing campaign group will remind Community Rail of the laborious classes learnt by British Rail. It appears possible that any adjustments wanted to enhance passenger expertise may be carried out with out demolishing the delicate 90s intervention and putting a tower over the listed buildings.”
James Sellar, chief government of Sellar, insisted that defending the station’s heritage was a key precedence. He mentioned: “The historic station won’t be touched. The restoration and preservation of the heritage options are essential to us. Not solely do they permit the station to retain its character, however by higher showcasing them we will make the station expertise extra gratifying to all customers, together with passengers and employees.”
He additionally mentioned there can be a “full” and “open” public session course of in regards to the proposals.
Sellar added: “We have now been clear in all our supplies that the designs for the business components are nonetheless being developed and that we are going to current these on the subsequent public session early in 2023. The picture is ghosted to indicate the dimensions and massing within the context of the encircling space and different latest developments adjoining to it, in addition to its place on the north-western fringe of the town’s japanese cluster.”