Press release: SAVE joins calls to the Mayor of London to save landmark site in Soho Conservation Area

8 June 2016

Press release: SAVE joins calls to the Mayor of London to save landmark site in Soho Conservation Area

SAVE has written to Sadiq Khan, the new Mayor of London, requesting he refuse proposals to demolish a key site in Soho, including the former Foyles building.

Last month, Westminster Council’s planning committee approved plans to demolish 111-119 Charing Cross Road, for replacement with a nine-storey block. The application would cause significant harm to the Soho Conservation Area, and strong objections were received from Historic England, The Victorian Society, and the Greater London Authority (GLA).

The GLA objection stated that, ‘the loss of the original Foyles building causes significant harm to the conservation area and consideration should be given to façade retention.’

The application is now with the Mayor, who will take the final decision on whether to grant approval. SAVE has written, along with Historic England and the Victorian Society, to request that he use his planning powers and refuse the application.

Approval of this application would set a dangerous precedent for the protection of Conservation Areas in Westminster, as well as in London as a whole. An application which causes clear substantial harm to designated heritage assets must be refused.

The Proposals

The proposal would see 113-119 Charing Cross Road, the old Foyles Bookshop buildings, and No. 111 Charing Cross Road, a 1920s commercial deco building, demolished. These are handsome brick, stone and stucco buildings, which make a positive contribution to the Conservation Area. One-to-three storeys higher than buildings in the central Soho grid, they form a distinct but not overbearing boundary to the Conservation Area. In addition, the entire south side of Manette Street, a simple but respectful 1950s building, would be demolished.

In their place a large nine-storey block is proposed. This building would be visible from a wide range of views, and, as a result of its height, bulk, and limited variation of scale, would be entirely out of keeping with the Conservation Area and would cause significant harm. It is the type of building that Westminster Council has already identified elsewhere in the Conservation Area as causing harm.

Mike Fox, Deputy Director of SAVE said: “Soho is already witnessing intense development pressure, and large schemes such as this one pose serious risks to the area’s unique character and identity. It is imperative that change and new development in this sensitive area respects and works with the existing historic buildings and setting, rather than trying to drastically eradicate and redefine it.

“We hope that one of the Mayor’s first acts since taking office will be to call-in and refuse this application.”

Marcus Binney, Executive President of SAVE said: “The proposals have been drawn up as if the Conservation Area, and indeed Conservation Area legislation, did not exist. The existing buildings have character and variety and if refurbished would, like comparable buildings in Soho, Covent Garden and all over central London, add greatly to the street scene. This is a Trojan horse of the worst and most dangerous kind and must be strongly resisted.”

Note to editors:

1. For more information please contact Mike Fox, Deputy Director at SAVE on 0207 253 3500 or

2. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.

Press release issued by SAVE Britain’s Heritage
70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ
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