London Mayor Asked to Save the Original Foyles Store
Responding to the news that Westminster Council has decided to give permission for the demolition of the original Foyles store in Soho and replace it with a new development against Historic England’s advice, the heritage body is asking London’s new Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to call in the scheme and refuse it.
Chief Executive of Historic England, Duncan Wilson, said: “We are sorely disappointed by Westminster Council’s decision. The height, bulk and corporate character of the design for this building to replace the much-loved original Foyles store on Charing Cross Road is completely out of keeping with the historic grain of Soho.
"There is only so much of the fabric you can tear away before a special place starts to lose its meaning. Soho is one of the most distinctive, well-loved places London has, and the Foyles building is another important part of it now threatened with demolition. Buildings like the one proposed to replace Foyles do not belong in this important conservation area.”
The existing building was probably the first purpose-built bookshop and certainly the most famous of its kind in the country. It stands in the Soho Conservation Area, known for its rich and diverse history.
In its advice to the Council, Historic England expressed concern about the loss of a wide group of buildings, including Foyles, saying: “Soho’s distinctive charm is formed by its layers of architectural styles from different periods. It is village-like but also louche and edgy.”
Historic England advised Westminster Council that this development would strike at the heart of why Soho is so special.