The extraordinary plan has been devised in order to make it possible to demolish the Grade II* listed Commonwealth Institute in London. Dr Thurley has agreed to meet with culture minister David Lammy to discuss this proposal and its wider implications for heritage protection.
'This is a proposal for a demolishers' charter. It undermines the fundamental principle that the country's best and most culturally valuable architecture is worth keeping.
'Listing does not stop a building being altered or demolished, re-used or sold for a profit. Wembley Stadium was listed but demolished within the law, and in line with our advice. There is already a constructive and democratic way of resolving cases like this. Forcing through a bill in the face of opposition would be an unacceptably rash destabilisation of the planning system.
'Due to the unique nature of the Commonwealth Institute site, it is questionable whether demolition will release the greatest profit. English Heritage has offered detailed guidance, sympathetic to the owner's concerns, on how to develop the site for the best outcome.
'The importance of this building is not being debated. The secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport does herself argue that it is still worthy of its Grade II* status. The future of this building should lie in expert consideration of how to get the best from the site through the normal planning process. To engage in a fundamental change to the law undermines the whole system of protection in England.'