The Georgian Group needs your help in protecting Custom House!
Over the past few months, the Group has been hard at work preparing evidence for the Public Inquiry which will start on the 25th January. We will demonstrate why the Appellant’s scheme is not the right one and will propose a viable alternative which would bring genuine heritage and public benefits, securing the future of the grade I-listed building for future generations.
The Custom House is one of the great Thames-side public buildings of the Georgian period and remains largely unaltered. Designed by David Laing, one of Sir John Soane’s pupils, and Robert Smirke, architect of the British Museum, it is a very rare survival of a purpose-built Georgian office, and in its heyday housed some 2,000 customs officials. Apart from its impressive façade to the Pool of London, its architectural glories include: the massive Long Room on the first floor, the (early) fireproof vaulted ‘Queen’s warehouse’ on the floor below, a ceremonial Robing Room, a spectacular Tidewaiters’ Room, grand staircases, and fine Regency details such as fireplaces and panelling. Successive customs houses on the site have been at the centre of Britain’s story as a great maritime power and trading nation.
The Georgian Group’s scheme is one focused on protecting the building and its important internal spaces. We propose a mixed-use scheme with offices in the eastern and western wings and exhibition spaces in the central body, prioritising public access. Visualisations of our proposed scheme can be found below, where you will see the Long Room and Queen’s Warehouse hosting art exhibitions and the historic quayside being used by the wider public. Further details of our campaign can be found here.
Above: A plan of the basement as part of The Georgian Group’s scheme showing flexible space in the centre and areas to the east and west associated with the office uses in those wings.
Above: A plan of the Ground Floor showing the gallery and exhibition area in the Queen’s Warehouse (centre). A museum will be located in historic office suites in the Western wing. The Quayside will be opened up to the public.
Above: A plan of the mezzanine level in the east wing to be used as workspace
Above: The first floor showing the reinstatement of the historic Broker’s Lobby to the north of the impressive Long Room. The Long Room will be used for exhibitions and events, as will the Robing Room where historically officials would change into their officials’ garments.
Above: The second and third floors of Custom House. These will be used as office space, therefore retaining the historic plan form of the building.
Above: A vision of the how the Georgian Group sees the historic Long Room being used for exhibitions allowing access for the public.
Above: The Quayside, which is currently closed off to the public, will be open for the public to enjoy.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Donate – The costs of defending this great building at Public Inquiry and proposing a better alternative are considerable and we ask for your support. All donations to this cause, whether large or small, would be very gratefully received. This can be done by visiting: www.justgiving.com/campaign/thelondoncustomhouse
Object – Email your objections to ALISON.DYSON@planninginspectorate.gov.uk quoting the reference APP/K5030/W/21/3281630 and stating you object to the proposed plans and support the proposals put forward by the Georgian Group.
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