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From the organisers of

English Heritage say let the South Portico stand

15 December 2000

As the Queen\'s official opening of the Great Court Scheme of the British Museum approached, English Heritage made a statement saying it had advised the London Borough of Camden that the demolition of the French stone South Portico was not justified.

Nevertheless, English Heritage still felt the Portico failed fully to meet the standards required for grant aid and had advised the Heritage Lottery Fund to reduce its award for the South Portico.

Camden planners were due to meet after the opening of the Great Court, which had not yet taken place as NSS went to press, to decide if the South Portico, given planning permission on the basis of it being Portland limestone, should be demolished.

Sir Neil Cossons, chairman of English Heritage, said it was regrettable that the Museum had failed to undertake all the remedial work specified by English Heritage last October. However, the work that had been carried out had achieved worthwhile improvements to the overall appearance of the Portico.

Sir Neil maintained that English Heritage believed the Anstrude Roche Claire stone used was adequate, in terms of colour match and fitness for purpose, for the construction of what had always been intended to be seen as a new structure.

The big problem for conservation would seem to be that if it is considered acceptable for the British Museum, a Grade I Listed building of international significance, to change materials after gaining planning permission, why shouldn\'t it be acceptable for the owner of any other Listed property to do the same?

No doubt arguments will emerge that might just have echoes of don\'t do as I do, do as I tell you.

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