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  • CarolineShah

The agony of destruction - will Historic England act now?

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

Agony as we watch the wilful destruction of the heritage at the heart of our communities

I have tonight sent the message below to Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England at

Please also write to Mr Wilson and let him have your views on whether London's heritage is being protected in the face of massive, dense and high-rise development and whether you support a challenge of the London Plan's policies for our heritage across the capital

"Dear Mr Wilson

I am asking you in your role as head of the body charged with protecting heritage in England to request that Robert Jenrick and Sadiq Khan amend the London Plan policies on heritage so that they are consistent with national policy for the protection of heritage assets and to make your organisation's position on the London Plan policies clear.

I have received advice from Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers that there are grounds for challenging the London Plan policies on heritage based on their inconsistency with national policy as contained in the National Planning Policy Framework 2012.

This is a very serious matter given the extent and nature of development planned by our regional and national public authorities in Greater London over the next 22 years, and the lasting harm that such development will wreak on London's rich and unique heritage and the communities of which it forms the heart in the absence of protection that our heritage assets are due under national law.

You may know, for example, that a proposal is going to committee at Kingston Council on Tuesday 28 July 2020 for a massive development on Canbury Place Car Park with a 17 storey tower that will be visible from a protected view in Grade 1 listed Richmond Park and from Richmond Hill, a view that is protected by an Act of Parliament. The huge development will also tower over the adjacent Grade II listed Gala Bingo Hall, and destroy the setting of the Grade II listed Former Sopwith Aviation Factory from which came 25% of all the British planes of WW1 and 60% of all British single-seat planes, and the Grade II listed Hawker Aircraft Experimental Shop, both buildings facing each other in the adjacent Canbury Park Road.

As Julian McCarthy, the author of Kingston in 50 buildings says:

"If you had to pick just one place in the world that played a major part in the allied victories of both world wars where would you pick? ...You may have thought that Canbury Park Road was nothing special but stand with the factory on one side and the experimental workshop on the other and you have in my opinion, two buildings which changed world history, here in Kingston upon Thames."

History such as this deserves to be protected in its own right across London.

I sat at the table at the Examination in Public session on heritage at which David English from Historic England spoke and I drew attention to the fact that proposed policies on heritage in the London Plan were not consistent with those in the National Planning Policy Framework 2012

Please see my blog post where I announce that Mr Willers has given me his advice:

and the letter that I have sent to Mr Robert Jenrick and Mr Sadiq Khan asking them to amend the London Plan policies so they are consistent with national policy:

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely

Caroline Shah"

Please watch the UNESCO video on the importance of heritage:

The video calls on everyone to celebrate the places, objects and cultural traditions that make the world such a rich and vibrant place. UNESCO launched the campaign UNITE4HERITAGE in order to stress the importance of safeguarding heritage for future generations

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