Future of war graves HQ uncertain

Posted on by John Cronin

The future of a landmark office block in Maidenhead remains uncertain after an application for listed status was declined.

CWGC HQThe imposing Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Headquarters building (pictured) is the subject of redevelopment plans.

The CWGC consider the offices are too big for their head count of around 75 staff and are no longer suitable for their needs. CWGC want to relocate to new offices and sell the existing building for redevelopment. Plans have been drawn up to demolish the offices and replace them with an 11-storey apartment block, although a planning application has not yet been submitted.

Established by Royal Charter in 1917, the CWGC pays tribute to the 1,700,000 men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars. The commission manages war graves and cemeteries in 150 countries.

The substantial, 5-storey CWGC offices were designed by architects Fitzroy Robinson & Partners and were recognised in 1974 with a RIBA ‘Excellence of Design” award. A campaign to save the building from redevelopment, often described as “fortress like”, was started by local residents. The building features include a dug out entrance, a pillbox structure and a gatehouse with portcullis.

An application by English Heritage to have the building listed was rejected last week by Heritage Minister John Penrose. Campaigners, who plan to appeal, suggest that Mr Penrose is ignoring the architectural merit of the building. Local campaigner Mr Peter Bell said of the CWGC headquarters: “It is the nearest thing to a castle that we have in Maidenhead”.

The campaign to save the building is backed by The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. The council originally agreed to support the application for listed building status in 2010.

 

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