One of the UK’s oldest synagogues, Bevis Marks in the City of London, has won the first stage of a challenge to the planned development of two adjacent skyscrapers. In this outstanding outcome, the threat of loss of light from the ancient place of worship was a leading argument, along with its historic significance in the City.
A planning application for the redevelopment of the 7 storey Bury House with a 49 storey office tower was presented to the meeting of the Corporation of London Planning Committee on 8th October 2021. In a shock move, the Committee, which usually approves this type of proposed development, voted overwhelmingly to override the officers’ report and reject the scheme, following the submission of more than 2800 objections citing loss of daylight for candle-lit services at the synagogue, and the damage to the setting of this unique Grade 1 listed 18th century building.
hgh made representations about the emerging City Local Plan, on behalf of the Bevis Marks board of trustees, citing the religious and heritage status and on-going community value of the building.
Roger Hepher said: “It’s remarkable that a Committee that normally approves tall office buildings should come to this decision, particularly in light of the City’s current campaign to reassert its status as a leading global financial centre. It reflects a significant and welcome shift in priorities, where cultural and heritage value are weighed much more heavily against economic benefit”.