Conservation area to be set up around Bevis Marks Synagogue

Move by City of London will help protect the character of Britain’s oldest synagogue


Bevis Marks Synagogue has won a significant victory in securing protection against local planning developments it fears could have a detrimental effect on its historic character.

The City of London Corporation’s planning and transportation committee on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve setting up a conservation area around the synagogue.

That will not prevent commercial developments in the neighbourhood, but applicants will, in future, have to surmount significant hurdles.

Planning officers had recommended setting up the Creechurch Conservation Area in summer - but Bevis Marks had believed the area was too small.

Now following a public consultation, the corporation has accepted the boundaries proposed by the synagogue which include Bury Street.

Rabbi Shalom Morris, the synagogue’s rabbi, said, "We are very pleased the City have decided to proceed with the conservation area, and with the boundary we support.

“This is a very special and historic part of the City, not least for the Jewish community, and it is under constant threat from insensitive development proposals. The conservation area will help ensure that heritage factors are given the weight they deserve when future planning decisions are taken."

Two years ago, the City rejected a planning application for a 48-storey commercial building at 31Bury Street that was opposed by the synagogue because of fears it would block out the sunlight for most of the day.

But developers more recently posted plans for a new 43-storey block on the same site that would provide “a new commercial building of high quality”.

Shravan Joshi, chairman of the planning and transportation committee, said: “After an unprecedented and welcome level of public engagement, the committee has voted unanimously to approve proposals for the Creechurch Conservation Area, giving due consideration to the results of the consultation.”

He thanked “all those stakeholders who contributed, including our friends at the Bevis Marks Synagogue.”

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