Campaign against demolition & monstrous development.
Campaign for refurbishment and sensitive redevelopment.
We couldn’t really do better than this simple, and oh so chillingly relevant, poster from our 1970’s campaigns.
This new office block would be over 80 metres tall – 70% as high as Centrepoint, and many times more bulky. Standing a short distance from the British Museum it would tower over our narrow streets and be seen from the capital’s most precious conservation areas in places like Bloomsbury Square, Seven Dials and Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
Covent Garden Community Association, Bloomsbury Association and many auspicious organisations have joined with local residents and businesses to urge the developers to think again. Take a look at our campaign brochure and get involved.
The developers’ impressions of the main building from various angles.
Our friends at Save Bloomsbury summarised the situation brilliantly with their initial article and an update. The Guardian published an article on 24th July which cites this destructive scheme at its conclusion, in the context of history’s continual struggle between people who know and love the place where they feel they belong versus those who come in wanting to change it forever.
Congratulations to everyone who supported the campaign to preserve what was the Saville Theatre. To locals who appeared as CGCA’s witnesses and gave evidence in the first days of the hearing. And to the many people who attended the proceedings whose presence was important to show the extent of local interest.
The Beatles at the Saville Theatre in 1965 after collecting their MBEs. Sadly, the murals are lost.
Special thanks go to the CGCA’s own volunteers who led the campaign, and to our two expert witnesses who also donated their time.
Paul Velluet, the architect and great friend of Covent Garden who cut through the legal nit-picking to focus everyone on the harm to the unspoiled building and its legacy.
And Jane Palm-Gold, our local historian who brought to life the cultural legacy of the venue.
Programme for the first show at the Saville Theatre in 1931 – hardly changed on the outside as the Odeon we see today.
All this strengthened our cause for ‘conservation’, rather than the ‘gut and stuff’ job that our team felt better described the destructive proposals, even if they hadn’t included several hotel floors of shiny glass being plonked on top of this Art Deco gem.
The building used to be the ‘Saville Theatre’ and its exterior is an unspoilt gem of 1930’s architecture. You can see what it was like in its glory days at the theatre history website here. It narrowly missed destruction in World War II, and continued to thrive until 1970 when it became a cinema. It was also famous for its weekend gigs, started by Brian Epstein when he was managing the Beatles, where everyone from The Who to Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd performed. We have put together a short video montage that you can see here.
The Saville Theatre in 1958
Well-known theatre owners would be prepared to buy the building and turn it back into a theatre with minimal alteration and full refurbishment. The current owner of the building is Haim Danous (founder of Thai Square restaurants), and we thought he would be keen to take up their offers, but he is pressing on with plans for a hotel with restaurants and bars instead. Camden council rejected his plans in 2018, but he is appealing to the Planning Inspector – which means that we need to put up a renewed and stronger fight to keep this last theatre in the West End. Or leave it as a cinema, which serves us well.
Please feel free to register to attend the Appeal inquiry and listen to some of it, and even to speak. Several local people and experts will appear as our witnesses, but that doesn’t stop others from adding their voices. The inquiry is being held online from 1st December to 18th December, and 5th to 6th January . Issues relating to residential amenity are on the agenda for the first two days.
Please drop an email to info@CoventGarden.org.uk if you would like details of how to register, or call Amanda at CGCA on 07957 388801. (more…)
Here at Covent Garden Community Association (CGCA) we are looking forward to seeing our neighbourhood re-open for business. For those of us who can, we will need to support our local businesses more than ever in the absence of many visitors.
However, the situation also carries some concerns for the community. For example, we are working very hard to get an amendment to the ‘Business & Planning’ Bill that went through the House of Commons rather quickly on Monday 29th June. We believe that measures to deal with the full impact of some points have not been dealt with in the wording. Westminster council, and the amenity societies in central London, are aligned on this. As is Nickie Aiken, our MP on the Westminster side. But we need to work fast. To this end we have chosen what we believe to be the most glaring issue to highlight for amendment. (more…)
Here at Covent Garden Community Association (CGCA) we are continuing all our usual planning, licensing and environmental work – especially in relation to community safety which is, unfortunately, quite an issue at the moment. There just won’t be any live presentations from developers until restrictions are eased. And, sadly, the May Fayre has had to be cancelled so we won’t see you out in the sunshine then.
Local organisations are are dividing things up between us to support our community, trying not to duplicate efforts. (more…)