PRESS RELEASE: Have your say on Richmond House demolition plans

Parliament has submitted its full planning application to Westminster City Council for the highly controversial £1.6 billion proposal to demolish grade II* listed Richmond House for a temporary Chamber. Now is the time to register your comments.

 
BACKGROUND
Under the plans drawn up by Parliament’s Restoration and Renewal committee Richmond House, built just 30 years ago, is set to be entirely demolished apart from the narrow but fine Whitehall frontage to make way for a new temporary chamber for MPs while the Palace of Westminster is refurbished. It is part of a publicly funded £1.6bn rebuilding programme of the ‘Northern Estate.’ 
 
SAVE Britain’s Heritage regards the proposal to permanently demolish Richmond House to meet a temporary need is the most expensive, extravagant, and wasteful public sector proposal for years.  See our latest press release here.
 
SAVE has highlighted at least four alternative locations for the chamber within the parliamentary estate which would be less destructive, less expensive and more environmentally friendly than the current plans. See the outline of alternative sites here, and our report on Richmond House as an exemplar low-energy government office building. 
 
SAVE’s campaign has been supported by noted architects Piers Gough, Mark Hines, Andrew Arrol, Jonathan Louth and 11 other Cathedral architects of the Cathedral Architects Association, national heritage organisations including the Twentieth Century Society, Ancient Monuments Fund and Victorian Society, architectural historians Andrew Saint and Roland Jeffrey, and journalists including Hugh Pearman of the RIBA Journal, Country Life Magazine and Private Eye. 
 
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The consultation period as part of the planning application process is now open on Westminster City Council's website - and now is time to make your voice heard.

POINTS YOU CAN MAKE
The grounds below are those of chief concern to SAVE: 

1. These plans see the wasteful and unnecessary destruction of a beautiful high-grade listed building. The proposal includes the total demolition of Grade II* listed (the second highest grade of listing in England) building Richmond House apart from its front façade on Whitehall. The proposals will cause substantial harm to Richmond House and the total loss of its high-quality interiors and purpose built, sustainably low-carbon design.  On this basis, the proposals contravene the following National and Local Planning Policies:

a) Westminster City Plan (2016) Policy S25 and 

b) The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) 2018 Paragraphs 194 and 195

We consider the public benefits of the proposed scheme do not outweigh the substantial harm / total loss described above on the basis of the following points:

2. There are less harmful and less expensive alternative sites to meet the need for a temporary MPs Chamber. These sites include the existing courtyard of Richmond House, the courtyards of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Treasury Buildings and Horseguards Parade.

3. Richmond House can be refurbished and retrofitted as an exemplar of sustainable low carbon design.  Working with Mark Hines Architects, SAVE has shown that the Richmond House can be retrofitted to accommodate the temporary MPs chamber, whilst preserving the integrity of its historic value and making it fit for a low carbon future, at a cost saving to the taxpayer of at least £1 billion.

4. In contrast, the current demolition proposals will see the equivalent of 16,000 tonnes of embodied carbon wasted (the total accumulated carbon over a buildings life-span, further contributing to existing concerns Westminster City Council has over its carbon footprint, which the Westminster City Plan (2016) states is the 19th highest out of the UK’s 406 local authorities.

5. The proposed demolition also fails to meet National and Local Planning Policy requirements on sustainability and climate change:

a) Westminster City Plan (2016) Paragraph 5.3 states that “Conservation of the existing built environment is inherently sustainable because it retains the energy and materials embedded in buildings and spaces. Demolition and redevelopment necessarily require a significant input of energy and materials. Existing buildings, including listed buildings, can be adapted and upgraded to improve their environmental performance and reduce their carbon footprint.”

b) The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) 2018 Paragraph 148 states that a key goal of the planning system should be to “support the transition to a low carbon future in a changing climate. It should help to: shape places in ways that contribute to radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” and “encourage the reuse of existing resources, including the conversion of existing buildings; and support renewable and low carbon energy and associated infrastructure.”

 

HOW TO COMMENT

- Use your own words and add your own personal reasons for supporting or opposing the development. 

- Quote the application reference: 19/08220/FULL

- Give your full name and postal address. You do not need to be a resident of Westminster City Council or of the United Kingdom to register a comment but unless you give your postal address your comment will be discounted.

- Be sure to state clearly whether you are SUPPORTING or OBJECTING to the application

 

WHERE TO COMMENT

- on-line on Westminster's planning portal under reference 19/08220/FULL

- by email to southplanningteam@westminster.gov.uk 

- by post to:  Pending Applications Development Planning City of Westminster PO Box 732 Redhill, RH1 9FL

 

THE CONSULTATION PERIOD ENDS ON FRIDAY, 29TH NOVEMBER – PLEASE MAKE YOUR OBJECTIONS BY THAT TIME. 

 
ENDS 

For further information or advice, contact SAVE's Conservation Officer Ben Oakley (ben.oakley@savebritainsheritage.org or 020 7253 3500)
 
Note to editors

  1. For more information and images contact Henrietta Billings, Director of SAVE Britain's Heritage at office@savebritainsheritage.org or on 020 7253 3500.
  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.