Short posts: a plan for the High Street

With my relatively new fortnightly schedule, and my annual fortnight off in August, plus a few other events, there hasn’t been much blog action lately. So I’m easing myself back into things with a few short posts. I’m working on a proper full length post at the same time but I’m taking my time with that, so the next few posts, which will appear at irregular intervals are like out takes from a film or TV series. Today’s pictures could have been part of the Kensington High Street series but they insisted on a post of their own.  This is Kensington High Street as it might have been.

 

 

On the left is St Mary Abbot’s Church, just to orient you, and on the right a version  of the Royal Garden Hotel next to some trees in Kensington Gardens. It’s a model which must have once sat on a table in the offices of Richard Seifert, architect.

As you can see the plan called for the demolition of everything between the two buildings and most interestingly, a tower as high as the church spire on the corner of Kensington Church Street. This would have been typical of work from the Seifert practice, which produced 500 or 600 buildings in London according to different sources including Centre Point, the famous landmark on Tottenham Court Road which remained empty for 15 years, and the Penta/Forum/Holiday inn in Cromwell Road.

Here’s a view from the rear.

 

 

The model implies the clearance of a big area near where Lancer Square was built, but presumably that wasn’t  real – it only includes the actual buildings which might have been built, with the Church included so you know where you are.

 

 

I found the pictures in our Planning collection, folded up, and I had to flatten them out for a few weeks to make them fit for scanning – you can still see the folds.

The initial reaction is perhaps horror, but it’s only a model after all, and it never happened. Imagine it though – the great big tower, the space behind it and whatever was inside the lower section which fronted onto the High Street. The expanse of glass. Would the project have opened up the High Street or hemmed in the buildings around it? And what difference would it have made to the High Street as time went on and the project had an influence further down the street?

I enjoy the ephemera created by building plans and planning applications. Like the shiny worlds in artists’ impressions, they show us alternate universes, some of which we would like and some we would be happy to avoid.


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