Billionaires Poju and Anita Zabludowicz are being challenged by government authorities over plans to partially demolish a 19th-century church for their art collection.
The pair own 176 Prince of Wales Road, a former Methodist church in north London’s Belsize Park, which was first listed in 1974.
Since the eponymous Zabludowicz Collection opened in 2007, the space has hosted exhibitions and installations for artists like Tracey Emin.
In January, the couple proposed to knock down part of the church’s former Sunday school, a two-storey building next to the main structure, and erect a three-storey-plus-basement-level extension to the main building, according to plans submitted to Camden council.
This was part of a plan to extend the gallery and create space for a cafe, according to the Evening Standard.
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Following a letter from Historic England in February, a public body that preserves and lists old buildings in the country, the couple revised their plans to demolish less of the former Sunday school, but added plans to demolish the middle gallery, another part of the listed site.
The proposals have again stirred criticism, however. In a second letter to Camden council in July, Historic England wrote:
“We were disappointed to note that the revisions include a great degree of demolition to the middle gallery… The justification for this change is not clear. […]
“Overall we consider the scheme is notably improved, although it would still cause some harm to the listed building. Your authority should be convinced that the justification has been provided for all harmful works, and that public benefits outweigh the harm caused, as per your statutory obligations.”
A spokeswoman for Zabludowicz Collection told the Evening Standard that the newly proposed plans would increase the gallery’s exhibition, performance, education, and storage space. The spokeswoman added that they “respect and enhance the historic features of the building.”
The collection did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
The Zabludowicz’s are worth £1.5 billion and were ranked 84th in the Sunday Times Rich List this year.