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HELP save a Strachan window! The Scottish Stained Glass Symposium

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Dear SSGS Members and Friends,
I have been approached for help by St Andrew's UR Church, Frognal Lane, Hamstead, London.
Please see my two attached letters which give the information you need.
The planning application, which was turned down, was for a proposed five storey block of flats that would rob the last Douglas Strachan window in London (A 4-light War Memorial Window) of its light. 
I know you are busy people, but please email briefly in your own words opposing the Development and objecting to the Appeal.  Your emails or online comments must reach the recipient by 4th November, which is Thursday of the coming week.
The Reference needed is APP/X5210/A11/2160566
Please send your email to appeals AT ;
or comments can be sent online to
Or write first class by Monday at the latest to:  The Planning Inspectorate,  Room 3/19 Eagle,  Temple Quay House,  2, The Square,  Temple Quay,  Bristol,  BS1 6PN
I think I may have emailed some of you twice by mistake. Sorry. It happens if I have you saved in two versions in my address list (twice treasured!!).
If you have already acted on this, I apologise for troubling you.
We are not on the spot to mount a protest. We have to shout to be heard. Many small voices make one mighty roar.  PLEASE HELP.
Many thanks and kind regards,
(Mrs) Alison Robertson
Honorary Secretary
The Scottish Stained Glass Symposium (SSGS) and
The Scottish Stained Glass Trust (SSGT), Scottish Charity SC039375
3 Ross Gardens
Tel 0131 662 9025
Scotstainedglass  AT    aol  DOT com

Scottish Charity No. SC039375
Convener: Prof. John R. Hume, OBE
Hon. Secretary: Mrs Alison M. Robertson, MA, B Mus

3 Ross Gardens
Tel. 0131 662 9025

29th October 2011

The Planning Inspectorate
Room 3/19 Eagle
Temple Quay House
2, The Square

Dear Sir or Madam,

Re Appeal to the Planning Inspectorate of the Dept of Communities and Local Government
Ref. APP/X5210/A11/2160566 

Urgent Representation concerning
Proposed five storey Development on the north side of
St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Frognal Road/Finchley Rd, London

War Memorial in stained glass by Douglas Strachan (1875-1950): (One Work of Art, consisting of two lancet windows each with two lights; that is four lights in all)

I have already made strong representation, on behalf of The Chairman, Professor John Hume and more than 200 members of the Scottish Stained Glass Symposium and Trust, against the proposed development, which will rob this outstanding window of the light which is crucial to its visibility from within the building. Please see enclosed a copy of this letter dated 14th March 2011.

How can I help you further to understand the appalling nature of what is proposed in terms of what it does to this outstanding window?  A stained glass window without daylight is like a human body without air. It no longer lives. It is silenced. It can never come back. To put it another way, taking away the light from this window is like nailing black boards permanently over a Gaugin or Picasso.

Dr Peter Cormack, Fellow of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the acknowledged expert on British stained glass during the Period when Douglas Strachan flourished, has stated in my hearing, “Douglas Strachan is one of the greatest of all stained glass artists, and without doubt a leading European artist.”   In this War Memorial window, Strachan combines large sacrificial and self-giving concepts with detailed, down-to-earth figures of soldiers and trench-diggers showing the horrors of war.  Metaphorically speaking, this window belongs to every single UK citizen whose country and freedom were saved for them by others.
Please initiate talks with the local community, the developer, yourselves and other interested parties to create an alternative and more sensitive development for this area. Such a community-based project, designed to create tangible and intangible benefits to the Community, (which can also deter anti-social behaviour), could be supported by the huge funds that can be had from European and other sources.
It would bring income and kudos to the developer and well-being to everyone else around.

We oppose the proposed Development and object to the Appeal.

Yours sincerely,

Alison M Robertson
Honorary Secretary, The Scottish Stained Glass Symposium and Trust

--- End quote ---

--- Quote ---14th March 2011

Committee Services
Camden Town Hall,
Judd Street,

Dear Sir/Madam,

Proposed five storey Development on the north side of
St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Frognal Road/Finchley Rd, London
War Memorial in stained glass by Douglas Strachan (1875-1950): (two lancet windows; four lights)
For the meeting of the Development Control Committee on Thursday 17th March 2011
I write on behalf of our Chairman Professor John Hume, OBE and members of The Scottish Stained Glass Symposium and Trust to express our serious concerns at this proposal.

1. Douglas Strachan was one of the two most outstanding Scottish stained glass artists ever. (The other was Alf Webster.)  Strachan’s best known stained glass designs are probably for The Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle, and for his windows in the Palace of Peace in The Hague, Holland.  His 350 or so windows make up an outstanding body of work.  Peter Cormack, formerly Curator of The William Morris Gallery at Walthamstow describes Douglas Strachan as one of the greatest of all stained glass artists, and without a doubt a leading European artist. This view is corroborated by our chairman. 

2.  Light is essential to the functioning of stained glass as a work of art. It is its life’s-blood. Without adequate light, any piece of stained glass is silenced, unable to communicate its message as intended, and never more so than in this case. These particular windows In St Andrew’s Church are oustanding works of art, with a telling and haunting message of Sacrifice to proclaim. If they were in a great Cathedral in England – and make no mistake,  this work is most certainly the equal of any of the best such glass in England – there would be an almighty public outcry at such a deprivation of light as will be inflicted by the proposed new building.  You are asked to recognise the significance and importance of this work of art and not to let it be so silenced. 

3.  These outstanding War Memorial windows at St Andrew’s church are very characteristic of Strachan’s work and display strong themes and structures expressed both in the horizontal and in the vertical; intellectual purposes that create a unified whole out of subtly and yet powerfully woven facets of Biblical narrative, apocaplyptic themes and human realities of life’s experiences and pains; very fine figure drawing; a keen sense of movement and vitality; stylistic characterisations of his, such as downward looking angels; immense technical ability, in plating, flashed glass, leading, and so on.  His dramatic, strong colour registers are carefully designed to take account of the north aspect and also of the sacrificial themes of the window.  The left hand window, in warm reds and oranges, brings a radiant glow to counter the cool northern light.  The right hand window in blues and greens draws on the nature of the light from a north facing window to emphasise the stark and chill realities of crucifixion and of war.  Yet here, too, Strachan also draws on his beloved and characteristically Scottish deep pinks and purples to contrast with the cooler colours.  It needs to be borne in mind that north facing glass never receives full sunlight, and such light as exists will be muted in its nature. It is part of the skill of the artist, and none better than Douglas Strachan, to make the best possible use of the light available.  It should be noted also, that part of the interest of the stained glass derives from the fact of the changing values of light according to season, weather and time of day. A large new building outside these windows would wipe out not only much of the light, but also the multitude of variations in light that a day brings.

4. It might be thought that some sort of artificial lighting could be rigged up to compensate for the proposed removal of natural light, but this is never satisfactory, and for a window of this calibre it would be a total travesty.

5. No doubt there will be a temptation to say that a building has no legal right to the light outside its windows.  However, what is being discussed here is not legal rights but an outstanding work of art: part of the great cultural heritage of Great Britain.  At a time when the Intangible Culture and Heritage Departments of UNESCO are emphasizing and supporting the importance of art, music, theatre and so on for the well-being of society, it would be an extremely backward step to demote the value of this particular work of art simply to serve the interests of modern flats, which can, after all, be built in other less-threatening sites. 

6. A War Memorial stained glass window technically usually belongs to the owner of the building.  However, it is the case that many War Memorials have been funded, or partially funded, by public subscription. This is also something that matters deeply to any community, representing, as it does, the passing of the best of that community’s youth, in a cause that they themselves may not even have espoused, but which they dutifully served to the point of death. In that sense, there is a strong moral obligation to ensure that for the sake of the communities in which they are set, War Memorials are respected and preserved.

7. I understand that there may also be a risk to the foundations of St Andrew’s Church by the creation of such a large building on ground that may not adequately support that degree of disturbance.  I would like to point out that all of the other very fine stained glass art that Douglas Strachan created in London, in The Guildhall (The Whittington Window 1931), in St Columba’s Church, Pont Street (one window), in St Paul’s Cathedral (the St Dunstan Window 1932) and the complete suite of windows in Westminster School (College) were destroyed by enemy bombing action during the Second World War.  These windows at St Andrew’s are the only remaining such work by Douglas Strachan in the whole of London.  Does Camden Council wish to go down in the history books as the Council that effectively destroyed the meaning, and possibly eventually the fabric, of the one remaining work in London by this outstanding artist? Surely not!

I realise that not every one involved in this application, including the developer, may have had any real awareness of the importance of these two Strachan windows.  I hope that the foregoing points will enable a better understanding of why they are so important, and why the feelings against the new development are so strong.  I trust that they will be given the consideration and respect that they deserve, and that every effort will be made to find an alternative way forward that does not include the building of a five storey building at this place and time.

Thank you for your attention.
Yours sincerely,

Alison M. Robertson
Hon Secretary, the Scottish Stained Glass Symposium and The Scottish Stained Glass Trust

cc. Donald Macarthur,  St Andrew’s Church

--- End quote ---

If using the on-line option, all you need is the last 7 digits... then hit find. Try and add more it will not work.

I really think that overshadowing IS one of the valid criteria for objecting to planning permission. We managed to prevent (ex-) neighbours from getting planning permission to build an extension which would have overshadowed us greatly, preventing anything growing in the garden and stealing all the light from my kitchen window.

However, it does depend on GOBSARTS (good old boys sitting around tables) and who is in whose pockets, and bribery and corruption, who gets planning permission for anything.  :grrr:

Surely the Right to Light rules (formerly known as Ancient Lights) come into play here?

Yes indeed Anne, but if it's a big conglomerate (or tesco) wanting the planning permission they seem to be able to bypass all the rules which apply to ordinary folk.

I've found the case on the online thing - but I can't find a way of sending a comment online at all.


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