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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 3 December 2009
Contemporary architecture and the British Museum

• CHRISTOPHER Jones, one of the three British Museum’s supporters who wrote (Letters, November 26), is rightly open about his connection to the museum.
On our side we can confirm our complete independence.
We are a registered charity, founded in 1963, with our limited funds derived almost entirely from members’ subscriptions.
In opposing the museum’s revised planning application we have worked side by side with the Bloomsbury Conservation Area Advisory Committee. Other organisations that have recorded objections now include the Georgian Group, SAVE Britain’s Heritage, the Twentieth Century Society, the Ancient Monuments Society, the Heritage of London Trust and the London Society, as well as other groups within Camden.
Their chief concern, like ours, had been the direct harm the proposals will cause
the museum’s magnificent existing Grade I buildings.
But we note that CABE the watchdog for new architecture, has now criticised the proposed new building as seen from Montague Place: “The detailed composition of this façade could be improved, and we suggest exploring a design which responds more subtly to the massive corner of the existing building”.
English Heritage itself has not yet issued its advice on the revised application. We trust that, as has already happened in the case of the draft planning policy framework PPS 15, the flood of expert thorough-going criticism will now persuade it radically to revise its position on the British Museum’s proposals.
For the record the Camden Civic Society strongly supports the museum’s aim to provide a new exhibition area with improved logistics below.
What we unfortunately cannot accept is the very extensive work accommodation squeezed in over the top. Far from being against contemporary architecture we ourselves commissioned a scheme that includes a modern extension for John Nash’s York and Albany public house in Parkway, at that point long empty and “at risk”.
It was our scheme, by Arts Lettres Techniques, that was eventually adopted, and it had proved to be a great success, both visually and practically.
Martin Morton
Chairman Camden Civic Society

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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