Marquis of Lansdowne pub saved from demolition by Geffrye Museum and Sir David Chipperfield

Campaigners Zena Sullivan, Will Palin, Peter Kelly and Nick Pope celebrate outside Hackney Town Hall

Campaigners Zena Sullivan, Will Palin, Peter Kelly and Nick Pope celebrate outside Hackney Town Hall last night - Credit: Archant

Renowned architect Sir David Chipperfield and the Geffrye Museum were dealt a massive blow last night when their plans to knock down a Victorian pub to make way for an extension were rejected.

The former Marquis of Lansdowne pub in Cremer Street.

The former Marquis of Lansdowne pub in Cremer Street. - Credit: Archant

Councillors on a Hackney Council planning committee voted six to two against proposals to demolish the former Marquis of Lansdowne pub in Cremer Street, Haggerston and replace it with a modern concrete block – despite town hall planning officers recommending approval.

Residents have been so incensed by what they referred to as “arrogance” from the museum in its bid to demolish a 19th Century pub that they formed a campaign group called Save the Marquis and gathered 2,100 signatures on a petition.

During the meeting Will Palin, the son of Michael Palin and trustee of the Spitafield’s Trust which had offered to buy and restore the pub instead, referred to “the irony” of the development – which would have been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund – and said the museum had “lost a sense of its purpose”.

But David Dewing, the director of the museum which specialises in English interiors from the 16th century, defended the proposals, saying: “We wish to improve visitor access, circulation and to provide new rooms for learning activities. We bought the pub in 1996 and it was already closed. It has not been a working pub for 19 years.”

He went on to claim the “museum is a victim of its own success”.

The councillors on the planning committee criticised the plans to knock a hole in the walls of the Geffrye Museum to build a walkway to the proposed new extension and said the building materials detailed did not blend in with surroundings. They also questioned why the pub could not be turned into a restaurant or offices.

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Summing up, committee chairman Cllr Vincent Stops, said: “The Geffrye Museum is the most exquisite building in Hackney. To support development of it I would have to be comfortable that no damage was to result.

“Coming to the pub, I don’t think the building that replaces it or the urban design issues make me want to see the demolition of it.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Pailn said: “I am totally surprised. I’m surprised because it’s unusual for planning officers’ recommendations to be ignored. The council stood up for both the pub and it’s historic context.

“They have bravely overturned the recommendations of council officers. In doing so, they have stood up for their constituents and have put the interests of Hackney ahead of those who support the Geffrye Museum.”

Urban designer Peter Kelly, 31, who also made a representation on behalf of the pub, said: “The pub is an important part of people’s memories. I’m really pleased it’s been saved for now and I hope that whatever the museum and the architects come back with will re-integrate the pub into its surrounding landscape.”

Resident Doreen Joy Barber, of Burma Road, Stoke Newington, who attended the meeting, said: “I’m happy that it’s been rejected. The building that was proposed was ugly as sin.”

David Chipperfield, who was visibly crestfallen by the decision, declined to comment.

Mr Dewing said: “We are bitterly disappointed that Hackney Council has rejected our planning application to develop the Geffrye Museum. We passionately believe that our proposed scheme would have provided great opportunities and benefits to the local community, creating a much stronger, better museum, attracting more visitors and generating more investment into the borough. The decision by the planning committee denies the essential progress which keeps great cities vibrant and dynamic. We are now considering our options carefully.”