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2,100 objections to Liverpool Street Station £1.5bn redevelopment plans

Liverpool Street Station is one of the busiest in the country
Liverpool Street Station is one of the busiest in the country

Plans to redevelop Liverpool Street Station have received more than 2,100 objections, with local authorities also among those to air concerns about the scheme.

Members of the public have slammed the proposals on the City of London Corporation’s planning portal, joining a range of voices from Historic England to Westminster City Council to call for it to be refused.

Property developer Sellar, which alongside MTR and Network Rail formed a joint venture to propose the redevelopment, said the plans ‘will help London to maintain its status as a world-class city – at no cost to passengers or the taxpayer’.

The £1.5 billion project, submitted to the City of London last year, would involve the partial demolition of the Victorian station and the construction of a 20-storey tower cantilevered above the neighbouring Grade-II* former Great Eastern Hotel.

Included in the plans are £450m worth of improvements to the station itself, from more lifts and escalators to a new upper concourse and better step-free access.

The most controversial element of the proposed scheme is the tower. Planning documents indicate it will include office and hotel space, plus facilities including a swimming pool.

In arguing for the necessity of the works, Sellar and its joint venture partners point to the fact Liverpool Street was last redeveloped in the 1980s, and is well over capacity. Last year it replaced Waterloo as the busiest in Britain, with 80.4 million entries and exits recorded between April 2022 and March 2023 according to Office of Rail and Road (ORR) data.

An impression of inside Liverpool Street Station should the redevelopment go ahead (Sellar/MTR)
An impression of inside Liverpool Street Station should the redevelopment go ahead (Sellar/MTR)

Since the plans were made public, a range of heritage and conservation groups have spoken against them. Members of the public have also aired concerns, and as of March 25, a total of 2,192 comments had been published on the City of London’s planning portal in relation to the scheme. Of these, 2,154 are objecting, with just 29 in favour.

Westminster City Council is among those to file objections, due to its impact on the site of St Paul’s Cathedral and ‘strategic views as experienced from within Westminster’.

“We conclude that the development will harm the setting of St Paul’s Cathedral and will harmfully change an appreciation of this Strategically Important Landmark in views identified as being of strategic importance,” the local authority wrote. “We believe the proposal would be contrary to the policies identified within the London Plan and the City of London Local Plan.”

One of the project’s most vocal opponents has been the reformed Liverpool Street Station Campaign (LISSCA), which saved the site from demolition in the 1970s. It is comprised of groups including SAVE Britain’s Heritage and The Twentieth Century Society, and is chaired by The Victorian Society.

Marie Clements, spokesperson for The Victoria Society, said: “The plans by Network Rail, developer Sellar and rail network operator MTR will demolish much of the listed sympathetic 20th-century trainshed which closely matches the Victorian original, severing the link between the two listed Victorian buildings, and cantilevering a 20-storey tower above the hotel and station. This is unprecedented over a Grade-II* listed building.

The proposed new front of Liverpool Street station (Sellar)
The proposed new front of Liverpool Street station (Sellar)

“The Victorian Society and 10 other amenity societies and heritage organisations believe that if these plans are approved it would set a terrible precedent which would mean that no listed building is safe from harm. As shown in Birmingham currently other developers are following this idea of seeking planning permission to cantilever over heritage buildings.”

Ms Clements added the group’s original petition against the plans garnered more than 26,000 signatures, and that it is continuing to fundraise to fight the application.

James Sellar, Chief Executive at Sellar, said: “Throughout the application process we have worked closely with the City of London Corporation and will continue to do so in the current determination period. In the context of the number of objections received, these should be balanced against the circa 130 million passenger journeys that would be improved should these essential upgrades to Liverpool Street station be approved.

“These proposals will help London to maintain its status as a world-class city – at no cost to passengers or the taxpayer. Our entire approach prioritises protecting and enhancing the historic elements of both the Great Eastern Hotel and of the station itself. The original Victorian railway sheds at Liverpool Street station will not be touched but will be celebrated by opening up new views to and through them.”