Letter to the Editor
• The letter from the Camden Civic Society (Contemporary architecture and the British Museum, December 3) is both erroneous and misleading.
May I thank all those individuals who have independently written to your paper to express their support for our new World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre.
I think it was a little unfair of the civic society to cast doubt on their independence.
The quote from CABE, the watchdog for new architecture as they describe it, omits their full response. CABE has stated “we fully support the current planning application for the extension of the British Museum. We find the proposal accomplished, particularly the skilful connections to the Great Court and the way the new elements sit between the listed buildings. With regard to the elevation adjacent to the King Edward building, our view is that it fits successfully into the context of Montague Place in terms of scale, proportion and materials.”
It would be a shame if anyone was unaware of CABE’s full support.
The letter goes on to imply that there is more or less complete opposition to our plans by a wide variety of amenity groups and others. Nothing could be further from the truth. First, English Heritage has now formally issued its response and, rather than being influenced by a “flood of expert thoroughgoing criticism” that will “persuade it radically to revise its position on the British Museum’s proposals”, it has in fact stated its full support for the project.
I am aware that a considerable number of other groups, such as the Victorian Society, the Bloomsbury Association, Bedford Estates and the Friends of Bloomsbury Square have all written to Camden in support of our proposals. They have been joined by the massive amount of support that our new centre has attracted from experts, professionals and architectural commentators both in this country and abroad. But, while I am delighted by the overwhelmingly positive response from those with specific areas of expertise, I have been particularly touched by, and grateful for, the support we have received from the local community.
I would like to thank all those individuals, schools, community groups, Camden residents, businesses and, of course, our own neighbours who have come forward to support these essential new facilities for the British Museum, which will enhance the very considerable cultural and economic contribution that the museum makes to life in Camden.
Deputy Director, British Museum