Unanimous planning approval for British Library extension

31 January 2023

We are excited to announce that Camden Council has resolved to approve the planning and listed building consent applications for the extension of the British Library at the planning committee hearing on Monday 30 January (7 for and 1 abstention).

We are delighted with this successful outcome and look forward to the next milestone in creating the British Library’s vision for its future home. Congratulations to our clients, the British Library and SMBL Ltd (a JV of Stanhope PLC and Mitsui Fudosan UK).

Located at the heart of London’s Knowledge Quarter, the project will provide 100,000 sqft of Library facilities, creating brand new spaces for culture, learning, research and business, which will invite anyone to come in and explore in ways that suit them. The development will also incorporate commercial space for organisations and companies of all sizes and establish a permanent home for The Alan Turing Institute.

The extension will completely open up the British Library to the north east and west and form new publicly accessible spaces, squares and routes that will connect the Library to Somers Town and St Pancras. We worked with the local community in Somers Town, sharing ideas during vital consultations and outreach events to provide a wide range of benefits for the local community.

Graham Stirk, Senior Design Partner, RSHP     “We are delighted that the British Library extension has been issued with a resolution to grant planning permission. The design proposal aims to transform the British Library site to make it the most open, creative, and innovative institution of its kind anywhere in the world. This scheme will enable millions more people to access the Library and provide a new home for the Alan Turing Institute."

"The future vision of the British Library is made possible by a state-of-the-art life-science facility that creates a vibrant synergy between a major public institution and private sector applied sciences. This will be a new heart at the centre of the Knowledge Quarter in King’s Cross. We look forward to working as part of the wider team to support this unique and exciting development.”

John McElgunn, Senior Partner, RSHP      “We are delighted that we were given the green light from Camden for the extension to the British Library. This is RSHP’s most public building of our recent cultural projects and the creation of a new commercial lab-enabled space will advance the essential eco-system in the Knowledge Quarter and strengthen the research links between the Library, the Alan Turing Institute, and the Francis Crick Institute.”

“The opening up of the site, together with increased public accessibility, will provide spaces to bring the Library, commercial occupiers and community together, increasing opportunities for local people. This is a unique opportunity for Camden and for the advancement of scientific research.”

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library   “We are thrilled that our plans to extend our site at St Pancras have been approved by Camden Council’s Planning Committee. The proposals will enable us to provide a brand new public space for London that’s connected to our local community and open to the world. This long-planned extension will make it possible for even more people to access and enjoy the Library, with a host of flexible new spaces including a new bespoke learning centre and spectacular new exhibition galleries. Working with our partners, we look forward to collaborating with our neighbours in Camden and beyond as we develop our site for everyone.”

The next step is for the Greater London Authority GLA to consider the application and finalise the necessary legal agreements. Construction works – once given the go-ahead – are anticipated to start between late 2024 and early 2025.

Read Roly Keating’s blog: The British Library: building the future at St Pancras