New skyscraper at 85 Gracechurch Street approved amid claims ‘heritage assets being diminished’

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New skyscraper at 85 Gracechurch Street approved amid claims 'heritage assets being diminished'

A huge 32-storey tower that promises to boost tourism and provide exclusive views of a famous market has been given the green light by the City of London.

Plans to build a new skyscraper at 85 Gracechurch Street were approved by the City of London Corporation’s Planning Applications Sub-Committee on 20 March.

Hersten Group, the developer, aims to keep and restore the façade of the existing 1930s building and will build the new tower directly behind it.

The tower will create 27,000 sq m of new office space as well as a garden on the fifth floor and a free public exhibition that will provide a virtual reality of life in Roman London.

The garden and exhibition will lead to a public walkway where people can view Leadenhall Market and beyond the city all from a rooftop.

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Visitors will be able to walk to between Gracechurch Street and Lime Street Passage as the developer plans to reopen the old walkway which it hopes will attract more people to the market.

On the ground floor there will be a public hall complete with food, shopping and event spaces while the developer is working with the Museum of London to create an educational space for schoolkids and tourists alike on its exhibition floor.

Prior to its approval, the plans were objected by The Victorian Society, who said the 32-storey tower would ’cause unwarranted and significant harm’ to the Grade II listed Leadenhall Market and the Leadenhall Market Conservation Area.

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The group, which campaigns to preserve Victorian and Edwardian heritage and architecture in England and Wales, wrote in council documents: “There is a danger the city will become a monoculture of glass towers, its conservation areas and heritage assets diminished and disrespected.”

The group continued: “The designation of the Leadenhall Market Conservation Area was designed to protect what is special, important and unique about this part of the City.

“The construction of 85 Gracechurch Street would actively erode this.”

However Shravan Joshi, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Planning Applications Sub-Committee said the new tower will boost the tourist appeal of Leadenhall Market and will boost the economy of the Square Mile.

Joshi said: “Developments such as this are a vote of confidence in the City as a global business hub and will helps us meet the continued demand for high-quality office space in the Square Mile.

“This scheme sets a high bar for others to follow. It will create major new public hall, a pedestrian route and a cultural space showcasing the rich history of this part of London, supporting our destination city vision of the Square Mile as a seven-day-a-week visitor destination.”

He added: “We worked closely with Historic England to ensure preserving and showcasing the archaeology of the location – in situ in the event of any significant remains found – was at the heart of these plans.

“This development will create new jobs, boost the economy of the Square Mile and drive significantly increased footfall to Leadenhall Market, helping to boost the market’s appeal as a major visitor destination in its own right.”

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