Victorian Society says 24-storey 55 Old Broad Street scheme would pave way for Herzog & de Mueron’s controversial Liverpool Street plans

The Victorian Society is calling for the City of London to reject Landsec’s plans for a 24-storey tower which would be partially cantilevered over a listed Victorian bath house.

The heritage group said the 55 Old Broad Street scheme, designed by Fletcher Priest, would “engulf” the 1895 Turkish-style bath house and harm views of neighbouring conservation areas.

It also warned the office tower would pave the way for approving Shard developer Sellar’s highly controversial proposals to build a 15-storey tower above Liverpool Street Station.

The Herzog & de Meuron-designed plans for the station are located just 100m north of the 55 Old Broad Street Site and feature comparable proposals to cantilever a contemporary building over the grade II*-listed former Great Eastern Hotel.

The Victorian Society said approval for Landsec’s application would set a precedent for cantilevering over listed buildings and mean that “no listed building would be safe”.

“The trend seems to have already started. The City must show decisively that it is willing to protect its heritage and throw out the application,” the group said.

The former bath house, an Islamic-style building designed by S. Harold Elphick, is covered with geometric tiles on both its interior and exterior, and topped by a glass onion dome lantern.

> Also read: Victorian Society names 10 most endangered structures

The building remained in use until the 1950s before it was extended and turned into a restaurant, and is now used as an events space.

Although it is already heavily overshadowed by the site’s existing building and the neighbouring 18-storey Dashwood House, which Fletcher Priest also designed for Landsec in 2008, the society said the current space around the bath house “allows for the full appreciation of its architectural interest”.

It said the redevelopment would “significantly diminish” this in a “staggering lack of deference” to the listed building, which would be “engulfed in an artificially lit, cave-like space”.

The society also expressed “strong and serious concerns” that no listed building consent application was submitted alongside the main application, which it said “reason enough to reject” the scheme.

It added that it has had no response to its request to arrange a meeting with Shravan Joshi, chairman of the City’s planning and transportation committee, to discuss its concerns over heritage issues.

A City of London Corporation Spokesperson, said: “Discussions on the 55 and 65 Old Broad Street application between City Corporation Planning Officers and stakeholders is ongoing. We have noted the objections and there will be opportunity to table amendments to the scheme.”

Oliver Hunt, Development Director at Landsec, said: “When reimagining 55 Old Broad Street, we turned the traditional approach on its head. Alongside modern offices, retail space and greatly improved public realm around the building, we want to seize the chance to create a true seven-day a week destination – one that gives talented creatives space to flourish, and generates long-term positive impact for the area.

“This includes our sensitive restoration of the Victorian Bath House, which will not only improve the building’s condition, but create an opportunity to open its doors for community use, making a lasting contribution to the area and allowing more people to enjoy this historic space.”

The project team for the proposals also includes planning consultant DP9, project manager Turner & Townsend, landscape architect Vogt, sustainability consultant Atelier Ten, structural and civil engineer Heyne Tillett Steel and townscape consultant Tavernor. Bam is working on construction and logistics.

Other contentious schemes in the City which the Victorian Society are objecting to include Woods Bagot’s 85 Gracechurch Street, a 32-storey office tower above the grade II*-listed Leadenhall market which was approved in March despite opposition from Historic England.