Planning Application Reviews
Please select the Planning page to see our responses to Westminster City Council on new planning applications.
Newsletter Autumn 2015
Annual Review 2014-15
Our AGM was held on Wednesday 18th November 2015 at the
Grange Rochester Hotel.
After the official business of the meeting, Dr Caroline Shenton,
an archivist, historian and writer, gave a fascinating and
humerous talk about her book The Day Parliament Burned Down.
Please go to the About Us page to view our Annual and
Forthcoming Events - Winter 2015
Our members Christmas Party and raffle draw will be held at 6.30pm on Wednesday 9 December 2015 at The Pavilion Room, Grange Rochester Hotel, 69 Vincent Square, entrance in Vane Street. Tickets in advance unless by prior arrangement.
Panorama of The Thames Project
© 2015 Panorama of the Thames Ltd
© 2015 Panorama of the Thames Ltd
The beautifully restored 1829 Panorama of the Thames - A Georgian View of London has just been published by Thames and Hudson and we are happy to have acquired a copy for our Archives.
Please read further about this project.
We welcome Non-members to most of our visits.
Our new programme includes the Parliamentary Education Centre, The Muniments Room at Westminster Abbey, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Royal Academy of Music and Shakespeare Celebration, 55 Broadway (TFL) FULLY BOOKED! Lambeth Palace Library, the Parliamentary Archvies, the Government Art Collection and Lancaster House.
To view programme and further details, click below.
New Scotland Yard, 10 Broadway
Following the exhibition in the summer the scheme for this site has been revised and a planning application made. The detailing is less fussy but the overall scheme remains the same. The Thorney Island Society objected to the scheme on the basis of the height of the buildings fronting Victoria Street, the very small offering of affordable housing, and the fact that the offices and retail units in the scheme are aimed at the top end of the market, ruling out the kind of small enterprises, such as think tanks, that need to be in this area. We also criticised the appearance and materials. Our full comments can be found on the WCC website.
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You may have read about the £370m sale of New Scotland Yard. One aspect of the sale is the removal of the Met back to its original home on the Embankment, into the renovated Curtis Green building, once an extension to the original Scotland Yard.
The other aspect, which involves The Thorney Island Society, is the proposal to develop the site with a mixed-use scheme for which there has just been a public consultation exhibition. What is proposed is retail on the ground floor, three floors of offices, and six towers of flats, the highest being 20 stories, fronting Victoria Street. The accompanying picture shows the proposed building at the corner between Victoria Street and Broadway. One good aspect to the scheme is that a wide pedestrian passageway is proposed, running between Victoria Street, almost opposite Abbey Orchard Street, to the Grade I listed 55 Broadway, the London Underground headquarters, now due to be converted into residential or other use. There will also be improvements to the public realm, both where the revolving Met sign now stands and to the existing green space (the old graveyard) next door on Victoria Street.
Various members of our committee went to the exhibition and came to much the same conclusion. The following comments were made:
While we agree that there are merits in the proposed scheme, especially in the improvement the public realm, we are concerned about the following:
The height of the buildings fronting Victoria Street
The precedent set by tall towers along this stretch
of Victoria Street, leading to the Abbey and Parliament
The supply of affordable housing is very low, thus
reducing the mixed-use aspect of this development.
Moreover we understand that this affordable housing
will not be social, which would be far more valuable in
addressing the housing crisis in London.
The mix would be improved if some office space could
be reserved for start-up companies, because small
office units are becoming more difficult to find in this
area. Some space for community use would be popular.
Appearance and materials
There has been a very negative reaction among our
members to the materials and detailing of the facades.
The detailing of the facades is far too ‘busy’, especially
the transition between the office floors and the residential
Thorney Tales (5) - Westminster Hall Roof
A visit to the hidden archives of Westminster Abbey, 4th November 2015
The Thorney Island Society came into being as a result of saving London's first public library in Great Smith Street in 1985. So it was with a double reverence that we made our much anticipated visit to a far older library only a few hundred yards away in Westminster Abbey. Our objective was the Muniments Room where ancient documents, particularly about Abbey transactions, are stored. But to get to it you have to go through a library that Time has told to stand still. Matthew Payne, Keeper of the Muniments, had us enthralled as he explained the history all around us dominated by the overpowering hammerbeam oak roof dating back to 1450. Only three books survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1540s - probably because they were about coronations and not associated with the old religion - but the library has since acquired a book of 1477 and has a fragment of the History of Troy printed by William Caxton (c 1422 - 1491) at his press mere yards away from where we were standing.
A wooden spiral staircase took us up to the Muniments room itself where we enjoyed a spectacular view of the inside of the Abbey - at least when we could take our eyes off the ancient memories around us including a long oak chest dating back to 1159, million believed to be the oldest in the country. Among other treasures shown to us were the beautiful prayer book of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry V11, who died in 1509 and what seemed to be a document of Offa - yes, he of Offa's Dyke - dating back to 693 though it turned out to be a 12th century reproduction. However, the Abbey does have an authentic document that can be traced back to 959, which is long enough ago for most of us.
With that we bid our farewells to a remarkable part of the Abbey beyond the reach of most visitors. Our thanks to Matthew Payne for showing us around and to Pippa Parsons for organising the trip.
Visit to new Parliamentary Education Centre, 28th October 2015
Discovering Parliament through virtual reality
Construction of the new Education Centre for Parliament has proved controversial for some Thorney Island members. This was partly because it encroached on rare green space in Victoria Tower Gardens and partly because it was difficult to believe that a new building costing £7 million was going to
be "temporary" for just 10 years as claimed.
At the end of October we visited it and were very impressed with the facilities provided to enlighten school children of primary and secondary age about the history of our parliamentary democracy. A series of rooms mimicing the look of the House of Commons and Lords utilise augmented reality techniques to explain over a thousand years of history at rapid speed to 100,000 of today's techno savvy kids every year.
It works very well. By manipulating iPads children can conjure up a virtual Winston Churchill on their shared screens to explain what parliament is all about including why there are always more MPs than seats. At one stage an animated Charles 1 speaks about his experiences with Parliament before losing his head.
One intriguing feature was a huge photo on either side of each room of the seats in the Commons and the Lords which looked so deceptively three dimensional that you felt you could sit down in them. To complement the use of new technology, there was a 3D printer in the corridor which was painstakingly printing out a plastic model of Big Ben as we were shown around to the bemusement of some members.
We were honoured to have the architect of the building and the parliamentary archivist as well as the head of education to answer our questions which, among other things, demonstrated to us that the building was constructed in a modular way with no deep foundations so it really could be dismantled and moved to another site if Parliament has second thoughts ten years hence.
The outside of the building in Victoria Tower Gardens still looks a bit denuded - but that is because the plants have yet to grow to cover the outside. A most enjoyable visit and thanks once again to Pippa Parsons for organising it.
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