I'm delighted to learn that the Civic Centre was designated as listed building by Historic England last week.
I'd never really noticed it or appreciated the building, until a few years ago. Then I took a second look a few years back and realised what a great building it is.
I know it was on the chopping block a few years back and the Council had plans to relocate to Woodside House. I hadn't thought about it much until recently when I was at a ceremony there and a staff member told that the Registrar's department was being moved out.
I feared that the plans were rolling ahead. I'd meant to check up the status, but life got in the way. So I was delighted when I got the heads up that the building has been listed.
Grade II is the category that 90% of listed buildings go in, "warranting every effort to preserve them". So it's not the strongest of protections, but I hope it will mean that the Civic Centre is safe.
That’s great news as it’s one of the few notable modernist buildings in the borough. For those of you who haven’t been inside try to worm your way in. The lobby, staircase and council chamber are really worth seeing.
But it doesn’t mean eyes can be taken off it. While listed buildings do have an extra layer of protection they still can be demolished or altered after being given listed building consent. For example in one single year almost 100 listed buildings were fully or partially demolished after proper permissions had been sought and given
I got married in there and it was rather nice, especially the little garden which was full of magnolia and quince at that season - a friend took some beautiful pictures of us.
I was married there as well. I've always liked it , the trees were in flower/blosom on our wedding day too.
I think its now a very interesting dilemma for the Council. I understand that the part of the Civic which has been listed is the roof. I know that there was a desire to demolish the building and look at a combination of private and social housing apartments. My office is in the Civic and it's not the greatest environment for us to work in as a result of a longstanding failure to manage the building over the years and appropriately maintain, for example, a working air conditioning system and a workable heating system and also to get rid of the hideous carpet on the walls of the lift, it absolutely stinks and I want someone to swab it and analyse the contents therein, I cringe to think of what would be found.
I suppose a question for the Council is that if they now redesignate this building as a fully working Council building, and populate the building with various departments, they would need a significant capital investment to bring it up to current legislative and building regulations standards. A new heating and air-conditioning system, rewiring, significant repairs to the internal structures, the floor of the main entrance which is covered in large cracks etc., etc.
Just for your information, the lobby of the Civic and 2 of the large meeting rooms on the 1st floor will appear in the next series of 'The Crown" it will be acting as the Middlesex Hospital presumably in the 1960's? It was filmed a
The building is listed in its entirety. A listing is snapshot at the date of the listing so includes the good, the bad and the ugly
Thank you Michael, as you can see its not my area of expertise but I remain curious as to the future of our Civic Centre.
Gerard, I’ve worked with architects, who should know better, who thought you could have just a listed bit of a building so no apologies needed!
I've just remembered that in the late 1980's I was a manager at Westminster Hospital and there were planning committees coordinating the decant from Westminister to what was then called the 'Westminster and Chelsea Hospital' (since changed to 'Chelsea and Westminster Hospital' as they didn't want is shortened to the WC lol). Anyway, there was a similar rumour that the Foyer was listed and that the rest of the building would be demolished and they would work around the listed foyer.
Of course if you get the chance to wander around what was Horseferry Road Magistrates Court, the old Westminster Hospital building is still there, across the road, as it was when I worked there and hasn't been demolished. So either the whole building is listed or nothing's listed. I think I needed to write this out like this as a form of therapeutic acceptance that the Civic now can't be demolished. I'm finished now.
Apologies, I erroneously added a reply to JJB below a few hours back. It was meant to be replying to you, Gerard.
Thank's Hugh, I've read it and indeed had the listing explained which makes me feel like a proper ass regarding the listing of 'the roof' but then who am I to correct anyone when I don't understand that particular process in the first place. There is an irony around the symbolism of transparency and openness when you consider recent political events.