Plans for the former Co-op Store in 1985

In 1985 the former Co-op store on the corner of Breadmarket Street and Bore Street closed. The Society was concerned about the developer's proposals to renovate this site (which later became Burtons) and the adjacent timber framed building on Bore Street.

The following extracts from the Society's newsletters tell the story.

[November 1985]

The proposals for the Co-op site in Breadmarket Street have been studied and commented on. The existing building is regarded as characteristic of an Edwardian / George V building above ground floor level and as such is thought to be worthy of rehabilitation on the ground floor in a manner harmonious with the rest of the building and its location. It is proposed that this building be demolished and replaced by a development the design of which is to some extent dictated by the relocation of the 17th Century timber framed structure now revealed to be under its 20th Century facade in Bore Street.

The new proposals are thought to be pleasing in general style but juxtaposition of scale with the 17th Century building sandwiched between St Mary's Church and the new shopping unit is described as awkward. Age alone is not regarded as the sole qualification for preservation, for quality of design and craftsmanship in addition to typicality of style and/or uniqueness are major considerations. If the hitherto undiscovered historic structure is too modest for preservation then the design of the proposed new building should be reconsidered, if it is truly a little gem then Bore Street could be its right location.

[April 1986]

The timber-framed building hidden beneath the Co-op in Bore Street has now been 'spot listed'. This means that a temporary reprieve has been won and the chance of the proposed development being abandoned has been made possible. Demolition (including taking down and re-erecting elsewhere) of a listed building requires the consent of the Secretary of State for the Environment. Dare we hope that the first floor elevation of the Co-op can be retained, the ground floor restored to greater harmony and that the 17th Century structure will be revealed and left where it is? A survey has shown that it has suffered the ravages of time but we hope that this will not be the means of justifying its destruction.

[January 1987]

The old Co-op site, on the corner of Bore Street and Breadmarket street, was to have been the subject of an inquiry by the Department of the Environment after the Chairman of the Civic Society, Michael Knights, had successfully requested that the timber framed building - the former Co-op Travel Bureau - should be listed. Now the developers have withdrawn their proposals and the public inquiry has been cancelled. What now?. Dare we hope that the first floor elevation of the 1913 building can be retained for there is no similar example of this style to be found elsewhere in the City.

[February 1987]

In last month's newsletter we were pleased to report the cancellation of the public enquiry into the proposals relating to the old Co-op site in Bore Street. We posed the question "What now?" and expressed the hope that the first floor elevation might be retained. Since then it has been announced that this is now likely and that the building may be converted into four shop units. If this eventually proves to be so then the Society will have achieved what is desirable in terms of re-use and restoration of an existing building in preference to its demolition. The Society's response to the recently published proposals is one of welcome, especially for the reinstatement of an appropriate fascia and restoration of the line of pilasters down to the ground floor.

[May 1987]

Among the plans recently examined by the Society is a revised scheme for the former Co-op buildings in Bore Street. An interesting and imaginative proposal which would both preserve and display the timber framed section was thought to require a closer description (and drawing) of what was intended. This is being sought.

[June 1987]

Representatives of the Society have met the Architect who is responsible for proposals relating to the former Co-op premises in Bore Street. The purpose of the meeting was to seek clarification of what was being proposed - a glass screen on the front elevation through which the remaining original timbers could be seen and those which were lost would be etched on the glass. This highly imaginative treatment has unsurprisingly been too much for many people to accept and an alternative proposal is now being produced. Let us hope that we do not now end up with a bland and undistinguished compromise.

[July 1987]

The former Co-op building, 43-47 Bore Street, has presented the developers with a number of complex problems the solution of which we hoped would produce either an imaginative recreation or a convincing modern design. We find the approved plan to be neither of these and shore the views expressed by other interested and informed groups that what is planned is an unsatifactory compromise.