Plans to turn the historic Grade 1 listed Custom House building that sits next to the Thames and Tower of London into a hotel have been submitted to the City of London.
Alongside the hotel conversion, the proposal will also include the transformation of the currently fenced off car park to the south into a public space — and hence the narrow occasionally flooded riverside walkway will be no more. Much better for walking, but a loss of an admittedly very inconvenient but oddly charming narrow walkway.
Custom House, as the name suggests, has been in use as a government office building since its construction, which began in 1817. HMRC currently occupies the building, using it as offices, but will leave in 2021.
Although the building looks uniform, it’s describable as three separate buildings. The western third is original. The middle third fell down due to poor foundations and had to be rebuilt, while the eastern third was destroyed in WW2 and rebuilt in the 1960s.
The proposal consists of the conversion of the spaces in the West wing and central block. The East wing facade will be maintained, but the post-war era interior will be rebuilt. New fifth floor roof extensions are proposed to the East and West wing, providing new public space with river views.
The Long Room, one of the largest and tallest single room spaces in the City will be retained and converted into a conference and meeting centre. They are promising in the planning document that it will be open for free bookable tours.
Apart from the new riverside terrace, the other externally visible change will be the addition to two glass blocks on the roofs for a roof terrace bar — they argue that it’s a modest change supported by cleaning up a lot of roof clutter.
All images from the planning application.