Jewish heritage activists have lodged their “strong objection” to a proposed 21-storey development just four metres from London’s historic Bevis Marks synagogue.
Experts said plans for Bury House at 31 Bury Street would impact “the significance and setting” of the Grade I listed shul, the oldest synagogue in the UK and the only synagogue in Europe that has held regular services continuously for 300 years.
In a strongly worded statement from the Foundation of Jewish Heritage (FJH), whose trustees include Sir Simon Schama, planners were told that the assessment of the plan’s impact “is incomplete”, which it described as “concerning”.
Noting the National Policy Planning Framework requirement, FJH said the assessment before City planners “does not evaluate the communal or evidential values of the synagogue when these are to be expected, especially the former, given that the synagogue has been a focus for community activity from the date of its construction to date.
“These are marked and concerning omissions and, in our opinion, lead to a flawed impact assessment which is unreliable.”
Construction on the synagogue began in 1699 to the designs of Joseph Avis, an associate of St Paul’s Cathedral mastermind Sir Christopher Wren. It was the second synagogue to be erected in England after the resettlement of 1656.
Historic England states, in its list entry description, that “in its little altered state [Bevis Marks] is of exceptional historic interest”.
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