Proposal to demolish hideous “Landmark House” – and replace with something even worse

landmarkhouseA planning application has been sent in to Hammersmith and Fulham Council to demolish Landmark House (right), the hideous 18 storey office block in Black’s Road.

But before you all cheer too loudly the proposal is to replace it with something just as ugly and even taller – 28 storeys (left).  The new scheme has been been designed by the architects Rogers Stirk Harbour – so it is hardly a surprise that it should be so awful.

If you wish to register your objection with the Council you have until February 28th – and can do so here.

The proposal should be seen in the context of plans by the Council and the Mayor of London to clutter the skyline with appalling new tower blocks in the Hammersmith Town Centre.

landmark_house_artists_impressionYet all this would seem to be quite in line with the Labour Council’s planning policy. A briefing from the Hammersmith Society says:

Site context:
Planning: current LBHF Core Strategy planning policy provides general guidance for the site development, seeking (Policy HTC) ‘…to encourage the regeneration of the town centre and riverside. …. to build on the centre’s major locational advantages for office development and to secure more modern accommodation…. to continually improve the environment and public realm, and to improve access between the town centre and the Thames… ‘. These general policy ambitions for the town centre appear to be reflected in the development proposals – subject to justification of the hotel use proposed. However the emerging LBHF Local Plan, due for adoption in summer 2018, refers to potential comprehensive changes to the town centre: a tunnel to replace the A4 flyover, improvements in the connection between the city centre and the river, the redesign of Hammersmith gyratory. Hammersmith Society is aware of an emerging masterplan for the town centre, with a valuable and radical vision for the future, which will be included in the new Local Plan. The Landmark House development could be a very significant first step in realising this vision, and it is essential that the application design is developed, and assessed, in the context of the future Local Plan…

Town centre: further design information is needed to understand how the development will relate to the immediate and general surroundings of Hammersmith. The division of the buildings into separate blocks, the evident modulation of the façade designs, and the open spaces around the buildings would together help to diminish the perceived bulk of this sizeable development. The impact on daylight and sunshine in King Street needs to be assessed. The lesser scale of the west side facing Angel Walk is welcome, but nevertheless the existing terrace will be dwarfed by the development. Angel Walk is in the King Street East conservation area: whilst there is no conservation area profile, common to all conservation areas is concern for the immediate context of the area, referring to the impact of adjacent development on the character of the area; on this count the proposals would fail.

Height: current LBHF Core Strategy planning policy BE1 identifies the town centre as ‘…an area where tall buildings may be appropriate but …not all parts of the town centre will be suitable. Any proposals for tall buildings will need to respect/enhance the historic context, make a positive contribution to the skyline emphasising a point of civic or visual significance…’.

A number of verified views of the development were shown at our meeting with the project team but do not appear to be included in the website information. Besides being visible in long views from King Street, the impact of the development on the Hammersmith skyline viewed from the river and the bridge is a critical consideration. The importance and sensitivity of these views is highlighted in ‘Thames Strategy – Kew to Chelsea’, a policy document endorsed by LBHF and The London Plan, where the Hammersmith river skyline is included in the listing of ‘Important Local Views’. A tall building is unwelcome, a tall building whose location is likely to appear random in the skyline context is more unwelcome, and a tall building which appears to have no locational or design relationship with future tall buildings on the Broadway site would be unacceptable. The development design has to be progressed in parallel with the emerging Local Plan, and with a specific LBHF policy which is needed for the town centre skyline.”

So lots of scope to object even within the constraints of the Council’s planning policy. But the fundamental problem is that the policy is at odds with the wishes of residents. For new development to be popular it must be beautiful, traditional and sympathetic.

5 thoughts on “Proposal to demolish hideous “Landmark House” – and replace with something even worse

  1. I welcome the demolition of Landmark House and have no objection to this proposal. The Richard Rogers practice have an outstanding record of fine buildings in London and abroad. I’m sure that this will be a another high quality building and make a positive physical contribution to the Broadway area. Providing that there are no wind problems generated by this building I do not have a problem with its proposed height and massing. The area is badly in need of a signature building.

    Brian Paver – Architect

  2. I agree with Brian Paver. I think it’s a stylish building, and much better than the current building on the site. Well done H&F council for allowing it.

  3. I am a long time resident of NYC – Manhattan. Rogers maintains he built many skyscrapers there, maybe, however remember that NYC and the Borough of Manhattan has VERY strict zoning restrictions ( building regulations) since 1916 ( yes 100 years )to regulate height, bulk, loss of light and air to the surrounding buildings and the people on the street. This will never be allowed to happen today in the equivalent of Hammersmith in New York. Can we have the equivalent of New York building codes in Hammersmith?

    London/ NY are NOT Dubai, Shanghai or Malaysia. We don’t need “Statement” Architecture here. Even Donald Trump and his aggressive real estate lawyers can’t circumvent the strict NY building regulations, and that is quite correct.

  4. One of the egregious things about modernist architecture is that it decries any classical or other historical motif in new building as pastiche, yet is derivative of its own history. In this case Rogers Stirk Harbour seem to borrowed heavily from Vesnin’s design for the Pravda building in Leningrad of 1924. So we have pastiche, but in a style most of the public finds ugly and alienating.

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