The overhaul of the existing building to create a ‘world-class transport interchange’ forms part of a broader £1.5 billion project which includes a new 16-storey tower above the renovated atrium. The big reveal of its designs for a massive development over London Station is scheduled for next month.
But Sellar and Network Rail’s proposals have already drawn a backlash from conservation groups. Historic England described the “bloated and insensitive” scheme as “fundamentally wrong” while the Victorian Society said it had not yet been consulted about plans it feared would “overwhelm” the listed station in 1874.
According to supporters of the scheme, the £450m terminal ‘vital upgrades’ include upgrades to ‘relieve access, capacity and overcrowding issues’ and will change the passenger experience for the 135 million people who use it each year.
To create step-free access across the station – and to all London Underground platforms – the number of lifts will be increased from one to seven while another six escalators will be added to the four currently in use.
The team insists a “key priority” is to “work sensitively” with the station’s heritage features, and that it will restore historical elements as well as the facade of the Grade II listed Andaz Hotel.
Herzog and de Meuron’s plans include open rooms such as Masonic temples and a ballroom, ‘providing a unique venue for meetings, entertainment and exhibitions’.
Designs not yet visible for the larger-scale redevelopment, which aim to create a ‘premium seven-day-a-week destination’, include a building over the site of nearly 80,000 square metres.2 of offices and the new six-storey Andaz Hotel.
This all-electric building will include extensive planting and solar panels on its roof and includes plans to reuse heat from office space to heat the hotel above. A new publicly accessible swimming pool will be used as a ‘Massive Thermal Storage’.
An extensive public rooftop park with 24/7 access is also proposed, while new entertainment, shopping and dining offerings will be included in the commercial development and throughout the upgraded station concourse area.
The team said that consultations on plans would begin with the “major groups” over the coming weeks, and initial project proposals, including plant improvements, would be shared with the public between November 21 and 23.
“Due to Sellar’s developments in the Paddington Cube and Shard, this development is likely to overshadow the listed building”
But early plans were met with resistance by heritage bodies. Duncan Wilson, CEO of Historic England, said: “Liverpool Street Station is one of London’s greatest Victorian stations, and has a distinctive character. While we recognize the need for site upgrades so that it can better serve the millions of people who pass through its doors, this development Bulky and insensitive is definitely not the answer.
“We believe this scheme is fundamentally wrong.”
Historic England said it believed the project would have a “significant impact on the Bishopsgate Conservation District” and more broadly on the City of London’s exceptional historic character.
She said she would file a “very strong objection” if the scheme was moved to the planning app.
Meanwhile, the Victorian Society has already launched a fighting fund to challenge the proposals “if necessary,” saying it was dismayed that it had just been invited to meet with the developers.
The Heritage Group was originally part of an alliance that saved the 1874 station from complete demolition after a public inquiry in 1975. The Queen reopened the station in the city in 1991 after a six-year redevelopment led by a conservationist that the society said was. “Now under threat.”
Victorian Community Manager Joe O’Donnell said: ‘It is very disappointing that a proposed redevelopment of a major Victorian station has gone this far without speaking to [us] Especially when public bodies like Network Rail and TFL are involved.
O’Donnell said that although the association had written to the development team “months ago,” it hadn’t heard anything until the plans were announced this week.
He added: “Therefore, we cannot comment on the details of the plans.” It is unclear how much the listed building will be lost or how many floors – perhaps 16 – will be built above the lobby.
Given Sellar’s earlier developments in the Paddington Cube and Shard, the listed building is likely to be overshadowed by this development. The few photos provided hint at the sky above the lobby which is completely obscured by the view of a new tower.
Cellar CEO James Cellar said: “Poor commuting is a drag on London’s growth and it is very rare that you have the opportunity to positively improve flights for millions of passengers each year. Our vision to significantly upgrade Liverpool Street Station will alleviate chronic overcapacity issues. and prove them in the future for generations at no cost to the taxpayer or the fare.
He added: “London is going through a pivotal post-Brexit and post-pandemic moment, and we need to demonstrate our willingness to commit to infrastructure improvements. We believe the proposed plant upgrade will also help ensure the city remains competitive and maintains its position as one of the most business ecosystems in the world. Innovative, inclusive and sustainable in the world and as a very attractive place to invest, work, live, learn and visit.
Responding to Historic England’s criticism, James Sellar said the project was on the edge of the city’s eastern cluster of skyscrapers and “our designs were intentionally kept low in comparison to ensure minimal damage to the city skyline”.
A formal planning application is expected next year.
Comment: Sellar Properties responded to Historic England
Consultation with all heritage stakeholders is an important part of the process and we look forward to engaging positively with the Victorian community, Historic England and all other relevant bodies. As previously mentioned, protecting and enhancing the heritage elements of Liverpool Street Station is one of our main priorities in our proposals to implement a £450 million program of significant upgrades required to address congestion and access issues at the station.
The original Victorian railway canopies will not be compromised
The original Victorian railway sheds would not be touched, as our plans were designed to celebrate these important heritage elements by opening the views to them and removing the modest elements from the lobby ceiling in the 1980s.
The proposed project is located on the edge of the city’s eastern cluster of skyscrapers, and our designs have been kept deliberately low in height in comparison to ensure minimal damage to the city skyline and St Paul’s Cathedral in particular.