Other main players

 

London County Council

The LCC Planning Department were employing a significant number of architects at this time – there was over 1,500 employed – it had become the largest architecture firm in the world at the time. This was a very active group from 1945 to 1965.

Mathews’ successor as the Head of the LCC’s Planning Department from 1953 until 1956. This three-year appointment was providence for CPB. Martin became a supportive champion of CPB. This secured their consideration and invitation to competitions and commissions from the LCC – including his support for the their work on the Barbican site. He supported a residential-focused scheme – and theirs in particular.

Their original feasibility study and design proposal was based on a density of 300 persons per acre and included all of the amenities required by the brief. The Greater London Plan of 1944 only called out a rate of 200 persons per acre for the residential areas that surrounded the Barbican site in Finsbury, Shoreditch, and Stepney. This density was later adjusted to 230 persons per acre – the LCC felt 300 was too dense and thus it was reduced in the next proposal. It is interesting to note that this is considerably higher than any density ever proposed by Le Corbusier.

Court of Common Council

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Barbican Committee

Original members: Eric F Wilkins, T. E. Chester Barratt, Stanley E Cohen, R. I. Bellinger, W. E. Sykes, Gilbert S. Inglefield, Ernest A. Parker, T. C. Harrowing, H. W. Keith Calder, Allen F. G. Stanham, W. H. Gunton, Douglas Hill, Alan S Lamboll, David L. Clackson.

Improvements and Town Planning Committee

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Coal and Corn and Finance Committee

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Housing Committee

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Music Committee

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City of London Schools Committee

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Library Committee

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Minister of Housing and Local Government

Duncan Sandys. CPB not only knew Leslie Martin but, Chamberlin had become acquainted with Sandys. During their iterations of the Barbican proposal the two had met on occasion to discuss the project.

CPB was commissioned to produce a residential-focused viability report for the site in 1955. They also included their proposed design for the site, though it was unsolicited. Chamberlin had strategically met with Duncan Sandys during their work on the report and was quite sure of his enthusiasm for their ideas prior to submitting their report.

The special subcommittee in November 1955, considered the rival schemes. It resolved that architects be appointed to consider a housing scheme and CP&B were recommended by the Ministry of Housing and Local government. The notes say public health committee reports 26 October and 23 November 1955. [Was Sandys minister?]

On 28 August 1956 Duncan Sands, the Minister of Housing and local development, wrote to the city Corporation, Lord Mayor. He was writing in connection with the appeal by the new Barbican committee against the city’s refusal of planning permission for their scheme. First, in the style of the period, he downed the new Barbican committee with faint praise. “”I have been greatly impressed by the imaginative character of the scheme put forward by the new Barbican committee, and I think you will agree that there are to be congratulated on the boldness and originality of their conception, which will give a much needed stimulus to fresh thinking about the nature of future development in the city.” (At this point, you know perfectly well, it’s about to be refused). “The widespread interest evoked by their proposals has most effectively focused attention on the need for replanning this important area in a comprehensive manner. He then refers to the fact that their scheme “contemplates the construction of vast factory, office and other commercial premises which would greatly add to the already excessive volume of employment in that area. Again, he brought up congestion.

But then he went on like this. “I am interested to learn that the city Corporation have themselves been considering how the same area might be rebuilt, and are thinking of including it a certain amount of residential accommodation. I welcome this approach; for I cannot believe that it is good for the city with to be choked by day and deserted by night. A better balance between commercial and residential use would, I’m sure, benefit everybody in the long run.

I am convinced that there would be advantages in creating in the city. A genuine residential neighbourhood, incorporating schools, shops, open spaces and other amenities, even if this means forgoing a more remunerative return on the land. Apart from providing dwellings for office workers. This would help to bring back some life to the city outside business hours.”

On 5 June 1957, representatives of the city Corporation met the Minister of Housing and local government. This was now Henry Brooke, who had succeeded Duncan Sands. As a result, the ministry sent a letter dated 11 June 1957 to the city. It was carefully expressed because the Minister could not prejudge any matter which might subsequently be have to be determined under an act of Parliament. But intentions were clear. The letter said. “The Minister expressed his interest in the scheme and his belief that the creation of a genuine residential neighbourhood in this part of London would be of the greatest value to the proper planning of the area.” The letter confirmed that, in principle, he favoured the Chamberlain power and bond scheme over the Martin Midland scheme so far as it related to the same area.


Important individuals

Eric Wilkins