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Save Liverpool St Station Event

October 29, 2023
by the gentle author


In the foreground of the developers’ visualisation, you can see how their nightmareish scheme for Liverpool St Station will look if built. Note the eleven storey tower block on top of the grade II* listed hotel. Courtesy Sellar/Herzog & de Meuron

Please come to our SAVE LIVERPOOL ST STATION campaign event at 7pm on Tuesday 7th November at Hanbury Hall, 22 Hanbury St, E1 6QR. Speakers include Griff Rhys Jones, Eric Reynolds and Robert Thorne.




Robert Thorne will talk about the history and evolution of Liverpool St Station. Robert was one of the GLC team that fought successfully to save it in 1976-77 and is the author of a history of the station. Since the seventies he has worked on numerous conservation projects, including at St.Pancras, Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads.

Eric Reynolds will analyse the flawed commercial case behind the redevelopment. Eric is a regeneration specialist, founder of markets at Camden Lock, Spitalfields, Greenwich and founder of Container City at Trinity Buoy Wharf, led the campaign to save Smithfield Market, and is Chairman of SAVE Britain’s Heritage.

Griff Rhys Jones will introduce the campaign to reject the proposed redevelopment of the station. Griff is a Welsh comedian, writer, actor and presenter well known through numerous television shows and documentaries. Less well known is his role as President of the Victorian Society since 2018.




‘Where is the top part?’ I asked, when shown the lower portion of a model at the public consultation for the proposed redevelopment of Liverpool Street Station by Network Rail, Sellar & MTR . ‘We don’t have it,’ replied the developers’ representative. ‘So how can I judge the impact?’ I queried, growing suspicious and feeling I was being taken for a fool.

Then I was helpfully directed to a larger, much-smaller-scale, model of the surrounding urban landscape that included a great part of the City of London and in which I had to search to find the Liverpool Street proposal amid the forest of towers. The outcome was that while I could see this would be one more tower among many, the immediate impact upon the station and the former Great Eastern Hotel (designed by Charles Barry Junior and his son and partner Charles Edward Barry, 1883–84) was less discernible.

Yet I was swiftly disenchanted of my innocence when I saw the rendering of the view down Liverpool Street with an overwhelming tower of 11 storeys squatting on top of the fine Victorian hotel like a monstrous succubus in a nightmare. My feelings of nausea were compounded on learning that this would be supported by pilings through the grade II* listed hotel which would be converted to offices and replaced by a new five-star hotel in the block on top, boasting the advantage of City views.

London’s great railway stations – 19th-century cathedrals of glass and steel refracting the ever-changing changing patterns of light from our northern skies – are one of the architectural marvels of Europe. St Pancras, Paddington, Waterloo, King’s Cross and Liverpool Street are universally loved for their inspirational vaulted glass roofs. Euston, Charing Cross and Cannon Street exist as salient reminders of what has been lost through misguided redevelopment in the last century, removing the natural light by plonking ugly buildings on top.

When Liverpool Street Station (built between 1873 and 1875 for the Great Eastern Railway by chief engineer Edward Wilson) was last redeveloped between 1985 and 1992, the former labyrinthine palimpsest was clarified by the sympathetic extension of the 1870s glass roof over the platforms across the passenger concourse to meet the Great Eastern Hotel. Unfortunately, the new development proposes building over the concourse and replacing this part of the roof with a solid ceiling beneath the new office tower which itself will cast a long shadow, obscuring much of the daylight from the remaining Victorian glass vaults above the platforms.

The case put forward at the consultation was that passenger access to Liverpool Street Station needs upgrading and this ‘improvement to the public realm’ can be delivered at no cost to the taxpayer by sticking a massive office block on top of the station. Yet it is a false logic, because Network Rail – as a responsible operator — has a public duty to provide adequate access. It does not follow that such overdevelopment is either necessary or obligatory in order to achieve decent public access to the station.

My heart sank when I saw the artist’s renderings of the wild-flower meadow that the developers plan to plant on top of their block and the rooftop infinity pool which is to be open to all. These are cynical sops to the public. Architects Herzog & de Meuron presumably got this job because of their conversion of Giles Gilbert Scott’s Bankside Power Station into Tate Modern. The hope was that they would bring a similar magic to Liverpool Street Station, but the brief here is entirely misconceived and this is a scheme that risks damaging their reputation irrevocably.

Why is the City of London contemplating the construction of new offices at all when so many sit empty, post-Covid and post-Brexit? Flexible working patterns mean the financial industries will require far less office space in future. I see no evidence of the City advancing any cogent or enlightened vision that accommodates to this prospect.

Thankfully, Historic England are objecting to the new development and have revised and updated their listing of the station, adding the sensitively conceived 1985/92 vaulted-glass roof over the passenger concourse which was the result of a seminal conservation battle for the station in the 1980s. The hotel has also been upgraded from grade II to grade II* (the second highest level of protection).

I understand that, for the development to go ahead in its current form, this would have to be successfully challenged and overturned, so we must now brace ourselves for a mighty and possibly protracted fight over Liverpool Street Station. The planning application has been submitted to the City of London.

This article was commissioned by Apollo magazine

Developers’ rendering of proposed redevelopment of Liverpool Street Station. This is the view along Liverpool Street looking east towards the Andaz (formerly the Great Eastern Hotel). Courtesy Sellar/Herzog & de Meuron

The proposed rooftop wild flower meadow Courtesy Sellar/Herzog & de Meuron

The proposed new entrance to Liverpool St Station Courtesy Sellar/Herzog & de Meuron

13 Responses leave one →
  1. Lizebeth permalink
    October 29, 2023

    EVERYONE must rally behind opposition to the hideous and unnecessary “redevelopment” of Liverpool Street Station. It is only inertia, and the greed of the City of London and developers that will push this project through.

    We managed to save St. Pancras, which remains a jewel of Victorian Architecture, but we have sadly let down Euston Station. Please contribute to the campaign by various societies and groups to SAVE Liverpool Street.

    How can anyone believe that this proposed building serves the needs of a post-pandemic future?

    Thank you.

  2. Sandra permalink
    October 29, 2023


  3. Alice Putt permalink
    October 29, 2023

    Don’t let them do this. In Santa Monica California we have a beautiful park on the top of cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The North End was famous for watching the Sunsets. A developer petitioned for placing a apartment at the end which would block the public view. They promised that the public could have access to the rooftop. They got their wish and built it. It was ok for 10-15 years, then the building was sold, apartments were converted to Condos and all access to the public was blocked. Once you let them get their way, it’s over for the public. Preserve what’s beautiful. The new development is not. We lost the view from our park and cannot get it back unless Mother Nature decides on a landslide.

  4. Bernard John Lamb permalink
    October 29, 2023

    Instead of building another new development near Liverpool Street Station they should talk to the people at Euston. There is a clear very large site there crying out for investment. It would help to solve their cash flow problem and be far less obtrusive.

  5. Martin Ling permalink
    October 29, 2023

    Why does passenger access to the station need upgrading? I can see some argument for the eastern end where the stairwell and escalators get a bit busy but aren’t passenger numbers down post covid? You could argue that better access is required because of the impact of the Elizabeth line but that has its own new entrance anyway. Finally what’s wrong with spending tax payers money on public infrastructure and how will an empty office block subsidise it?

  6. Greg T permalink
    October 29, 2023

    I will be there
    It was noticeable that the keen slaves brought in for the earlier small exhibition, were:
    1} Telling vast porkies
    2} Didn’t realise they were telling porkies
    3} Hadn’t a clue

  7. October 29, 2023

    Not needed, not necessary and definitely not to go ahead is this blot on the landscape. It’s another ugly faceless tower in a sea of them throughout London and further afield. The design and architecture is a variation on a theme of high glass steel/towers completely darkening and blocking natural light and skewing weather systems. Stop this monstrosity and protect and cherish our heritage for generations to come.

  8. October 29, 2023

    The brutal way in which the architects Herzog & de Meuron want to treat a Victorian jewel is completely unbelievable to me. Why do they seem so uninterested in the cultural heritage of a world city like London? What is planned there at Liverpool St Station is madness!

    Besides, who needs new office space in these days of “home offices”? Even here in Frankfurt they are starting to think about this…

    I can only suggest one thing: Prince Charles repeatedly influenced such impossible building projects in the City of London for years. Why should King Charles III not be able to do this?

    Love & Peace

  9. Cherub permalink
    October 29, 2023

    Herzog de Meuron are based in Basel, where I currently live. In this city old and new exist side by side in harmony with each other and Herzog de Meuron are responsible for many of the modern projects. Much of the old is either medieval dating back to the 13th century, or Swiss Art Nouveau.

    I worked at Bankside Gallery in Southwark when the Tate Modern project was ongoing in the 90s. Some of us were invited to see the refurbishment, at that point they had just finished gutting the turbine hall. Another architect and developer submitted plans which included the demolition of the huge chimney, had these been given approval and the work executed it would have been a travesty.

  10. Margarita Schwartzel permalink
    October 29, 2023

    Oh Yuck!

    What is the City of London trying to do and prove here!?

    Reminds me of a terrible time when developers were allowed to run amuck with Post Modern architecture design and ruin the language of buildings all together.
    Also makes me think of how New York City killed the original Penn Station – what a tragedy!

    Hold fast to your heritage or you risk losing your identity!

    Can you hear me yelling all the way from the Canada?

  11. October 30, 2023

    Good luck with your objections. These developers have no sense.

  12. adam dant permalink
    October 31, 2023

    Better passenger access could be achieved straight away if Network Rail reopened the main Primrose St entrance to the station which for no particular reason was closed to commuters around the same time as this ghastly proposal arrived. All the photos of the busy station on display at the public event were taken during times of cancelled services to make it look as if there was a capacity problem. I walk through there every day and haven’t experienced any overcrowding problems recently.
    Finally, removing all the end of platform retail outlets would allow for more ticket barriers and immediately solve the developers passenger-flow concerns with a single stroke ( if that is in fact a serious concern of theirs ). It’s really just another money grab development, yawn !

  13. Martin lightfoot permalink
    November 7, 2023

    The developers main argument in favour of this ridiculous proposal is that there would be improvements to the space of the Concourse and better disabled access. And how much would it actually cost to provide really good full disabled access to all parts of the Station. Could we objectors not fund the design of a better disabled access scheme together with its costs, to show Network Rail how this could ,and should be done , within their existing budgets. Martin Lightfoot, formally platform porter ,platforms nos 10 and 11 , 1956.

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