Development plans for 33 Creechurch Lane (Planning application: 18/00305/FULMAJ) pose an existential threat to the world-famous and Grade 1 listed Bevis Marks Synagogue.
Europe’s oldest synagogue in continual use (since 1701) could be rendered impossible to use if the City of London approves this application.
It is over three and a half years since 18/00305/FULMAJ was first submitted. In this time, it has attracted over 1,000 objections, signifying the strength of feeling in the community and across the country.
The community of Bevis Marks has had to endure the threat of this proposed development throughout these years. We are now calling on the City of London to make a decision on this application at the earliest possible opportunity.
You can help Save Bevis Marks by objecting to the application here. Even if you have objected before, please object again.
1. The adverse impact on heritage assets is unacceptable
The Bevis Marks Synagogue is a Grade 1 Listed building of significant local, national and international importance. It is the most important Jewish site in the UK and one of the most special synagogues in the world.
The 21-storey development at 33 Creechurch Lane would adversely and irreversibly affect the setting of Bevis Marks due to its overbearing and overshadowing impact on the courtyard of the Synagogue.
Because of its proximity of just 3.5 metres from the Synagogue, it will have an even greater impact than that of 31 Bury Street (20/00848/FULEIA) which was refused for this reason in October 2021.
To approve this scheme would be to significantly impede the appreciation of a key City of London heritage asset.
2. Unacceptable sunlight/daylight impact
Through its size and proximity to Bevis Marks, the development would have unacceptable sunlight/daylight impact on the Synagogue that would imperil its functioning as a place or worship.
Light is essential to the spiritual and functional aspects of Jewish worship, but existing neighbouring developments mean that the Synagogue already receives a low level of light.
33 Creechurch Lane would reduce the current Vertical Sky Component level of between 3.2% to 3.7% to between just 0.2% to 0.3% VSC. This is not an impact that that can be mitigated once it is there: the Grade 1 listing of the building means that the Synagogue cannot install additional intrusive electric lighting.
On its own the sunlight/daylight impact is unacceptable, but the threat to the functioning of the Synagogue would additionally bring into question the City’s commitment to freedom of religious expression.
3. Vortex wind effect:
Through its size, design, and proximity to the synagogue, the development’s vortex wind effects would stop both Bevis Marks’s original natural ventilation system and its smoke & fire system working. The potential impact is such that the functioning of the synagogue as an active place of worship would be threatened.
The applicant has provided insufficient information to determine that there are no harm or safety concerns impacting on the fabric of the Synagogue or posing a risk to the users of the Synagogue. Without this information the proposed development remains contrary to paragraph 3.7.5 of the City of London Local Plan 2015 which notes that: “An increased concentration of tall building development in the Eastern Cluster could exacerbate the problems associated with wind turbulence.
This will be mitigated by requiring wind assessments to be submitted as part of planning applications and requiring appropriate amendments to be made to schemes or measures to be implemented to eradicate problems”. Policy DM10.1 of the Local Plan also notes that with regard to new development “the design and materials (should) avoid unacceptable wind impacts at street level or intrusive solar glare impacts on the surrounding townscape and public realm”.