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Plans for giant modernist Iranian Embassy shelved
CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a giant modernist structure for the new Iranian Embassy in Kensington and Chelsea have been withdrawn.
Plans for the ultra-modern building, which would have been built just around the corner from their old embassy which was the scene of the Iranian embassy siege of 1984, were submitted to the council in May 2011.
Local residents were dismayed about such a building being constructed in an important conservation area at Queen's Gate in Kensington, and as a result the council put the application on hold for 18 months.
Subsequently the council's own Architects Assessment Panel considered the scheme for an embassy and Iranian Cultural Centre, by a Vienna-based Iranian architect, to fall below the minimum standards.
Caryl Harris, chairwoman of the South Kensington and Queen's Gate Residents' Association who campaigned strongly against the new building, said: "We are absolutely overjoyed that the plans have been withdrawn. I suspect that actually they have been timed out as the plans have been in with no improvements for two years now. We have pushed and pushed to stop this development and our MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind has been brilliant. I'm just relieved we have won."
Chairman of the Kensington and Chelsea council's architects assessment panel John McAslan criticised key aspects of the design by Iranian Daneshgar Architects, saying there was a lack of information on engineering, proposed materials and landscaping and as a result the panel was deeply concerned that the commitment may not be in place to deliver the ambitious proposals.
The proposals included a main building cantilevered over a smaller building that is painted a vivid saffron yellow.
Caryl Harris added: "In July of that year, we discovered that we as residents had not been properly consulted on the plans, which were submitted in May. No images of the six-storey stone and marble building appeared on the council website until the plans were reported in the press.
"The council said this was a police requirement, but the Met said it was at the council's discretion."
The building would have stood less than 20 feet from Grade II*-listed St Augustine's Church, which was designed by renowned Victorian architect William Butterfield.
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