Backlash over office plans for historic London hospital

Posted on by John Cronin

Plans for a new office block on the site of an historic former hospital in London have been criticised by heritage groups.

Foundling-hospitalThe Thomas Coram Foundation, a renowned charity for vulnerable children, originally submitted plans in 2007 to demolish the remaining buildings (pictured) that were once part of the former Foundling Hospital in Coram’s Fields, located within the Bloomsbury Conservation Area.

The plans to demolish the existing buildings including an old swimming pool and former child mortuary were first submitted in July 2006 and were subsequently approved subject to legal requirements in November 2007. That permission was due to expire on Monday, 8th November. However local councillors last night granted a subsequent application, agreeing that “commencement of material operations has begun on the site”.

Only yesterday The Victorian Society had said: “The small swimming pool and mortuary are an important physical reminder of the history of this area of London. Destroying them removes a link with the past that can’t be replaced”.

Coram’s want to redevelop the site to create a mixed-use campus that will incorporate an additional office building for their own use and for other complimentary partners with the aim of creating “London’s leading centre for child and family services”. Critics of the scheme suggest the charity is aiming to generate additional revenue for itself by letting out offices.

As part of the planning exercise a public consultation exercise has been undertaken with the public offering divided opinion. Whilst one person said “the development would be an improvement on the existing buildings” another voiced concern saying the new offices were “faceless, characterless, ugly – modern architecture should be inspiring not depressing”.

Architects for the £10m scheme are Meadowcroft Griffin and the developers are Stanhope plc.

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