• by Kevin Murphy

Saving English Heritage Historical Buildings

In October the government announced new plans for increasing the number of listed historical buildings in the UK. The Architects Journal reports that the Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has asked local authorities to bring forward a new list of local buildings that are of 'significant historical and cultural value.'

Mr. Jenrick told a Policy Exchange meeting in Westminster that only half of the local planning councils in the country had lists of historic local buildings and that the lists were either out of date or incomplete. The new plans will have £700,000 allocated for for 10 local authorities to nominate buildings for new uses. Buildings that are nominated by local residents will be presented to the local authorities for acceptance into the new scheme.

Mr. Jenrick:

‘At the heart of this will be local people as well as a new team of heritage activists, what we want to call the modern-day Monument’s Men and Women, who will be working across England to find these buildings and get them listed, locally or nationally as soon as possible.’

SAVE Britain’s Heritage calls the new scheme ‘terrific’ and mentioned well known historic landmarks buildings that are still unlisted, including 'Ringo Starr’s Liverpool house, the city’s Art-Deco Littlewoods building, and Southwark Tube station in London.'

Marcus Binney, the group’s executive president The Architects Journal:

‘SAVE has been calling for 10 years for increased numbers of vulnerable historic buildings to be protected.'

‘Yet year by year less historic buildings have been listed, and either demolished or left to rot as a result. Robert Jenrick’s announcement of £700,000 to speed up the process is magnificent.’

Chair of the RIBA’s conservation group Fiona Raley:

‘Our historic buildings reflect our society and contribute to our cultural identity. Protecting historic buildings and monuments from inappropriate change is a welcome start, but many still face uncertain futures.'

’Without sufficient investment for repair, maintenance and appropriate interventions, we will not be able to ensure their long-term viability. We must all do more to protect the UK’s historic buildings – some of our most valuable assets – to ensure they exist for future generations to enjoy.’

Also reported is the The Twentieth Century Society was also pleased with the decision by Historic England to grant Grade II listed status for a Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture in Cheltenham.

The report states:

'According to the society, the Theme and Variations triptych was at risk of being ‘removed from public view’ until it stepped in and campaigned for its protection (pictured below). Hepworth’s artwork and the façade of the building which it is attached to, Healing and Overbury’s former Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society HQ, were both listed.'

Historic England reported in 2018 along with the Historic Environment Forum that the use of listed buildings:

'Has revealed that businesses, big and small, are choosing to trade from listed buildings. Research carried out for Heritage Counts in 50 cities and town centres in England shows that the number of listed buildings occupied by a business has increased by 18% since 2012, from 10,465 to 12,353. When applied to all towns and cities, estimates suggest that there are now approximately 142,000 businesses operating in listed buildings across England.'

The listed buildings being occupied by branded retailers has increased since 2012 by almost 154% to 18,550.

The largest retail brand Greene King and Marstons pub chain occupies the most listed properties. Other chains like Caffe Nero, Starbucks and Costa have increased their presence in listed buildings by 173% to 4,754 from 2012 to 2018.

As for commercial businesses operating from listed buildings has been increases by 50% with 36,749 in 2018.

The report cites other uses for occupiers to include:

"Businesses in professional and non-professional services and the creative industries (including advertising, architecture, art, crafts,design, fashion, film and music) are also choosing historic settings.'

In a survey of commercial occupiers 69% of those respondents said that :

'...historic buildings convey a positive image to customers and clients. According to the report, the value and comparative advantage of historic buildings arises from the 'cache’ of these often unique places that are full of character. They can also offer businesses and brands something different, and are an alternative to average corporate office buildings.'

'Some historic buildings can also accommodate modern agile business spaces. Buildings once designed for industrial use can adapt well to contemporary uses. For example, old factory buildings, rectangular with high ceilings and windows, can be subdivided to create large, private open plan spaces. Generous floor to ceiling heights are often attractive and allow for mezzanine insertion.'

The heritage sector is considered an essential part of economic prosperity for Britain and from 2011 to 2016 the Gross Value Added (GVA) increased by 37% or £21.1billion to £29billion the contribution of 2% of national GVA. Since 2011 the heritage sector has helped to create 459,000 or an increase of 18% since 2011. The main employment areas can be found in the aerospace, defence and security industries.

As for tourism and residential use the heritage industry the report finds:

'Heritage tourism generated £16.9bn in spending by domestic and international tourists who made 236.6m visits. Converted historic properties (pre-1919) provided 51,110 new homes between 2012 and 2018, up from 5,053,970 to 5,105,080. Historic properties are now the second largest provider of new housing stock in England, after new builds. A fifth (22%) of all residential stock in England was built before 1919.'

'The report comes after a £55 million boost to high street heritage assets across the country, which was announced as part of the £675 million Future High Streets Fund in this year’s Autumn budget.'

One example of London heritage property for new development use is the The In and Out Club, also known as Cambridge House, which was purchased by Reuben Brothers in 2012 for an extensive three year refurbishment to be a single family residence. Also included in the development were two adjacent properties, The American Club and Green Park Chambers that were also acquired in the 2012 purchase. The property is located directly across from Green Park on Piccadilly and close to the Green Park Tube station. I had passed by the property many times but was unfamiliar with the buildings past. The location is an excellent one because of its closeness to dining and shopping within a short walking distance to Shepherds Market.


The construction of the four storey Grade I listed Cambridge House at 94 Piccadilly was from 1756 to 1764 for Sir Charles Wyndham, the Second Earl of Egremont. The architect and designer was Matthew Brettingham who developed a plan to reflect the 17th century French design or ‘hôtel particulier’ with the main residence placed back from Piccadilly Street with a courtyard and a wall in the front. The main portion of the building was designed to include the Palladian style with an additional wing which included kitchens added to one side that is adjacent White Horse Street. Brettingham had designed other Palladian style homes in London including Norfolk House (1752) at St James Square. Palladian homes became popular with the main floor everyday rooms being used were connected to each other and bedrooms on upper floors. The Second Earl of Egremont died as the house was near completion and the property was passed on to his twelve year old son, the Third Earl of Egremont who occupied the property from 1764 to 1794.

The home had other prominent residents including a royal household steward First Marquis of Cholmondeley from 1822-1829 and the Prince Adolphus, the Duke of Cambridge, a son of George III from 1829-1850 and the home became known as Cambridge House. The Duke died in 1850 and the home was purchased by Lord Palmerston who would later become Prime Minister from 1855 to 1865. Lord Palmerston died in 1865 and shortly thereafter the building was purchased by the Naval and Military Club because of its size and location. The prominent ‘In’ and ‘Out’ signs at the front gates on Piccadilly gave the residence a new name as The In and Out Club with members including Ian Fleming, Rudyard Kipling and T.E. Lawrence. On the other side of Cambridge House at 90-93 Piccadilly Street are the listed Grade II Green Park Chambers. Adjacent to the Green Park Chambers at 42 Half Moon Street is the Naval and Military annex which was constructed in 1919. It was designed to be a four storey dormitory for members of the Naval and Military club with the lower floor for socializing and the upper floors for bed and bath rooms. Both buildings were eventually joined together in the 1930’s.

In 1940 the building was heavily damaged by aerial bombardment. This required an extensive restoration of the roof and all floors of the building.

A 2013 film featuring the condition of Cambridge House, Piccadilly, London after many years of being unused. Film by Kevin Murphy.

In 1996 the Naval and Military Club was sold for £50 million to businessman Simon Halabi who had planned to redevelop the property into a private club and hotel. By 1999 The Naval and Miltary Club that had resided for years in Cambridge House moved to its current location at No. 4 St James’s Square in London. Halabi’s plans for the property did not materialize and from 1999 the building stood vacant with its front gates fitted with chains and locks with a bleak future until it was purchased by Reuben Brothers in 2011 for £130 million.

Plans for the project were approved by the Westminster borough council after an agreement was reached regarding a contribution of £5.5 million to the councils affordable housing fund.

Original development was for an exclusive £250 million home with the completed development consisting of 60,000 square feet of space with a ballroom, library, underground gym, pool, spa, and a wine cellar and was approved in 2013 by the local council.

But by 2017 the idea of making Cambridge House an exclusive address changed and new plans were proposed to have it converted to the "Cambridge House Hotel and Residences" with a five-star hotel and seven serviced residences. This new scheme was to be planned by PDP London and Tower Properties Management Ltd.

In e-Architect it was reported in 2017 :

'The scheme has been developed with a full design team, including input through pre application discussions with both the City of Westminster and Historic England, and a public consultation exhibition.'

Once completed the hotel will feature a new signature chef restaurant and hotel bar along with 'a spa with pool, cellar winebar, classically finished lounges, meeting rooms and grand ballroom.' Construction began in 2018.

'In addition to the retained buildings, the scheme features an equal quantity of new build construction that will enable guests and residents to benefit from an exceptional degree of amenity. Guest rooms are exceptionally large throughout and the scale of the grandest suites, with their ornate 5.4m high ceilings, are truly of a different age.'

Other projects by PDP London include The Ivy Chelsea Garden which is on the ground floor of a Grade II listed property on the Kings Road, Chelsea. The Union Jacks concept restaurant in the Grade II* listed Covent Garden Market building and the L'Ambassade London restaurant in South Kensington.

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