King’s College under siege from heritage lobby

Elizabeth Hopkirk

LTS’s vision of the high street.

College submits LTS plans that include demolition of historic Borough terrace

Conservationists have accused King’s College of callously attempting to bulldoze part of London’s surviving medieval fabric to help fund a new campus in south-east London.

The college has submitted two planning applications to Southwark Council as part of a £1 billion transformation of its estate.

For the first, Allies & Morrison has drawn up plans for 750 student flats, affordable housing, offices, retail and a health centre on a former business park in Canada Water. For the second, LTS Architects has designed a contentious smaller scheme that would replace a terrace of historic buildings and courtyards on Borough High Street with shops and a 100-room hotel.

Historian and broadcaster Dan Cruickshank said: “The buildings form a key part of one of the most evocative streets in London. They stand on a route of international importance for at least 2,000 years and — as with many houses on the high street — embody history, memories and ancient fabric.

“To destroy them would be an act of barbarism and a stain upon the reputation of King’s College.”

English Heritage, which was involved in pre-application discussions with the college, said it was “very concerned” about the proposed demolition of three historic buildings that make a “strong positive contribution” to the character of the area.

“We are working with the developer and Southwark Council to explore their potential for re-use,” said a spokeswoman.

The college said its scheme would replace derelict buildings with high-quality contemporary architecture and public spaces. The only listed building would be retained and refurbished, with a glazed shop front inserted where it overlooked Spur Inn Yard.

William Palin, former director of Save Britain’s Heritage, said the “crude and destructive” scheme would destroy Georgian and Victorian buildings and atmospheric cobbled yards, whose entrance arches contain medieval timber elements.

“King’s College are using their name to back a purely commercial scheme,” he said.

Consent for a previous scheme on the site has expired.

King’s expands realm

King’s College has ambitious expansion plans that will allow its student numbers to grow by 2,250 and its academic staff by 150 in the next three years.

As well as the schemes at Canada Water and Borough, it is working with Hall McKnight on its Strand site and with GWP Architecture on its Denmark Hill campus.

It has also agreed an option to buy land at the old Mulberry business park in Canada Water if it secures planning permission.

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