Westminster Abbey has been granted planning permission by Westminster City Council to build a new stair and lift tower at the east end of the church. The tower will enable public access for the first time to the Abbey's eastern Triforium, an elevated internal gallery, which is to be transformed into a new museum and exhibition space: The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries. This will be the most significant addition to the building since Nicholas Hawksmoor's iconic west towers were completed in 1745.
The new tower has been designed in sympathy with the Gothic style of the Abbey by Ptolemy Dean, the Abbey's Surveyor of the Fabric (Consultant Architect). It will fit unobtrusively into a courtyard outside Poets' Corner between the Abbey's 13th-century Chapter House and 16th-century Lady Chapel. The tower's design reflects a pattern often found in the Abbey: a star shape derived from two rotating squares. It will be clad in lead with leaded light windows set in metal frames. As well as providing access to the Galleries, it will give visitors unrivaled views of the Palace of Westminster and into the Abbey church itself.
Working closely with the Kirstie Robbins, the project architect at Ptolemy Dean, GMJ prepared verified planning images for use in the Townscape Impact Assessment.
The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, the Dean of Westminster, said: 'We are delighted that our proposals for the new tower and for opening the eastern Triforium to the public have the support of Westminster City Council reflecting that of our local community and of other bodies concerned for the preservation of the local and national heritage. This planning approval will enable us to approach with confidence the final stages of the necessary fund-raising and drive us towards the timely completion and opening of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries, the most exciting development of the Abbey building for over 250 years.'
Councillor Robert Davis, Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council and chairman of the planning committee, said: 'In a city full of spectacular buildings, Westminster Abbey stands out not only for its architectural merit but for the fundamental role it plays in our cultural and civic life. I am certain that this new tower, which will give people access to some of the Abbey's previously hidden treasures, will be an attractive and successful addition to the city's heritage.'