Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment

In May 2011, a meeting was held with  CABE to present the plans for Gagarin Square. This meeting followed a pre-planning  meeting with the Southwark planners, in which planners arrived late and in a bad mood. Their negative comments were mostly  examples of a lack of  reading of the proposed plans and the extraordinary admission of those present that none had ever attended the Menier Theatre or an art event at the Gallery. The meeting with CABE offered much constructive criticism and positive comment. Here is a selection of their comments:

We find a number of welcome aspects to this proposal: it offers a considerable cultural asset, has the potential to enrich its neighbourhood and will play a valuable role in the on-going South Bank renaissance.

We applaud the inclusion of an elevated public space; however, it is unfortunate that this courtyard can only be accessed via a flight of steps. We strongly recommend that it is fully accessible for visitor with compromised mobility; this might be achieved by installing a lift (note: the Gagarin Square plans which CABE were given, clearly shows a public lift to the terrace.) 

CABE supports the opportunity to welcome a fine example of Russian architecture into the heart of London, continuing a long tradition of landmark buildings from other cultures.

The diverse and intensive mix of use will help to minimise the environmental impact of the development. We applaud the proposal for sharing reclaimed heat from the theatre.

It is was encouraging to see that  CABE  in principle recognised the merits of the project, both in terms of its design and its use.