The Natural History Museum Grade I listed Waterhouse Building is a national treasure in its own right. The grounds around the building, as well as its amenities, are set to be redeveloped – planning permission was recently granted. Deloitte provided extensive advice and coordination of the applications for planning permission – including stakeholder engagement strategy.
The Natural History Museum first opened in 1881, following the UK Government’s acquisition of 71,000 items of interest following the death of their collector, Sir Hans Sloane. The items were first held in the British Museum, but the museum was deemed too small for the ever growing collection of natural history curiosities by Sir Richard Owen, who took over directorship of the museum in 1856. Owen persuaded the UK Government to establish a new museum, for which Albert Hall architect Francis Fowke was commissioned in 1864. Following Fowke's unexpected death a year later, Alfred Waterhouse took over the task. The building, in Romanesque architecture at the South Kensington site was constructed out of terracotta to survive the harsh London environment. Today the Natural History Museum has more than 80 million specimens spanning billions of years and is visited each year by more than 5 million people.
While the building has stood the tests of time, the extensive grounds around the museum are to see significant redevelopment. The work will involve the creation of a unified landscape around the South Kensington site, which will, besides a significant upgrade of the grounds by way of new paths, ponds, terraces, meadows and biodiverse planting, gain a new civic square, shop and restaurant; and a new step-free entrance to the Museum from the South Kensington station tunnel. The centre piece of the redeveloped grounds will be a life size model of ‘Dippy’ the diplodocus, who will be found grazing in a new ‘Jurassic planting scheme’.
Planning permission for the redevelopment was recently granted, advised on by Deloitte Real Estate’s planning team. The firm coordinated the applications for planning permission, which included leading stakeholder engagement strategy. The proposed redeveloped was created, over a two year period, by Niall McLaughlin Architects and Kim Wilkie Landscape Architects.
Adam Donovan, Assistant Director at Deloitte Real Estate, comments, “This planning permission represents two years of close consultation with Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, local residents and a range of stakeholders. The innovative scheme provides a comprehensive landscape masterplan for the museum whilst providing a sensitive setting for the Grade I listed Waterhouse Building.”