LONDON Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse has written to the leader of Westminster Council condemning the redevelopment proposals for Burlington Arcade.
In a letter of objection that dismisses the cosmetic proposals, lighting, sculpture and painting as "insensitive and awkward, vulgar even", Mr Malthouse called on Councillor Colin Barrow to protect what he called "a small and treasured oasis in this desert of ubiquity" and to prevent it from being turned into "yet another parade of dreary brands".
Mr Malthouse's letter – sent to the Westminster Council leader on his official City Hall headed stationery – is published in full on this week's ATG printed newspaper. It is possibly the most powerful official voice of public objection to the plans in a week that saw Stephen Fry use his Twitter account to send a message of outrage on the matter to 3.3m followers.
"Revolting plans to turn the glorious Burlington Arcade into a tarty Prada, G&B hell like any vulgar street anywhere," he Tweeted.
His views were echoed by Mr Malthouse who wrote:
"Westminster Council has long had an ambition to preserve smaller shop units throughout the West End, in the hope of protecting the smaller independent retailer. This policy has sadly been largely ineffective. A visitor to the area might just as well visit Westfield or Bluewater, or indeed any large city to see the same set of chain stores, designers and other retailers selling largely mass produced goods."
Eminent jewellery specialist Geoffrey Munn, of Wartski's and the BBC's Antiques Roadshow, has added his objections too.
A copy of his letter posted on the website of the leading campaigner, silver dealer Daniel Bexfield, shows him dissecting the proposals point by point, pointing out that the arcade is not only a "heritage asset" but one London's most famous Regency landmarks.
Meanwhile Mayor for London candidate Ken Livingstone underlined just how important and high-profile the Burlington Arcade debate had become by paying Mr Bexfield a personal visit in his shop there on Wednesday last week to discuss the matter.
By Ivan Macquisten
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