Westminster 'showpiece' plan gets permit
By Terence McQueen
AMULTI-MILLION pound redevelopment scheme, setting Westminster Cathedral away from the tall shops and offices which have hidden it for half a century, has received outline planning permission and a recommendation from the Royal Fine Art Commission. A wide piazza, stretching from the Cathedral's main door to the present line of Victoria Street, will give the Cathedral a striking new position in one of London's most famous thoroughfares.
The full glory of the Byzantine architecture of this most important Catholic church in the "bountry will be seen through a 135 ft. opening between the building line of the new Victoria Street.
These are the main points to emerge this week from an interview with the architects, whose scheme was first outlined in the CATHOLIC HERALD 21 years ago.
The architects confirmed that the developers have agreed to pull down the property which has hemmed in the Cathedral for over half a century. And the space will be kept open, The Cathedral will subsequently become a showpiece of Victoria Street, scene of pageantry and pomp on State occasions when Heads of State pass by from nearby Victoria Station.
The piazza. studded with small shrubs and rustic seats, is to be laid out in place of the six-storey along the length of Victoria Street
will he interrupted immediately opposite the Cathedral to provide a 135 ft. wide opening on to the piazza.
Both sides of the piazza will be flanked by little shops, in keeping. it is hoped, with the Cathedral setting.
Buildings due to he pulled down for the piazza and Victoria Street opening contain a number of longesti' hl ished Catholic shops and offices—among them Burns Oates, the Catholic Truth Society Bookshop, the Art and Bookshop, the Ashley Gallery, and the offices of the Catholic Association and the C.W.L. Relief and Refugee Committee.
None of these concerns have yet found out what provision, if any, will he made for them under the redevelopment scheme. The general feeling among them is that they may not be able to afford the rents that would be asked for in the new buildings near the Cathedral.
It is thought, however, that demolition and rebuilding work wi' not begin for several years. The outline planning permission already obtained for the scheme has to be followed by detailed planning approval from the London County Council. The architects, C. H. Elsom and Partners, have had full consultations with the Hon. Lionel Brett, architect acting fo r Westminster Cathedral authorities. Pic. p. 10.
Three Sisters of Charity of St. Vincentde Pa ill go on their w>ly in one buildings at present concealing There's a seat at the top. but its not likely that they'll stop. There's the Cathedral from Victoria Street. work to he done. New buildings due to he erected