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Wartime tunnels under the City of London will be transformed into a cultural site – if Camden agrees too

London Tunnels Heritage
London Tunnels Heritage

The Square Mile is known for its historic sites and gleaming skyscrapers, but there’s also redevelopment happening underground.

Deep-level subterranean wartime shelter tunnels underneath High Holborn will become the latest tourist attraction, following planning approval which was granted today.

The City of London Corporation’s planning and transport committee gave a green light to change the use of rarely-seen or used Kingsway Tunnel in the heart of the City.

It said there would be an estimated £60-85m extra footfall in the local area each year, according to the corporation.

But, there’s a catch.

London Tunnels Heritage
London Tunnels Heritage

The underground tunnels will become a visitor and cultural attraction, but as it shares a boundary with the London borough of Camden, it therefore requires the local authority’s approval too.

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In developing the site, buildings at 38-41 Furnival Street would be combined into a single unit, with the ground floor used as the main entrance to a ‘heritage experience’ and a temporary space for exhibitions.

The plans will create a site that “would directly reference the historic tapestry of the City”, and include an underground bar on the Camden side.

London Tunnels Main Entrance
London Tunnels Main Entrance

In plans unveiled today, the attraction will be accessible and open to all ages, helping to transform High Holborn into more of a tourist destination. The site will also offer free visits for schools, jobs and apprenticeship opportunities and lead to pavement widening and cycle spaces surrounding the site.

Shravan Joshi, the cairman of the City of London Corporation’s planning and transportation committee, said: “I am incredibly excited by these plans and hope that LB Camden feels the same way.

London Tunnels' bar.. if Camden says yes.
London Tunnels’ bar.. if Camden says yes.

“At the City of London, we are delivering a thriving, sustainable Square Mile, through a combination of business growth and celebration of our local heritage. The new and exciting heritage, arts and culture activity that this scheme has the potential to deliver, will enliven the local streets and venues.

“As we work to transform the Square Mile into a seven-day-a-week destination, developments like the one proposed for the Kingsway Tunnel site will become global attractions for a variety of visitors, which are projected to rise substantially.”

The London Borough of Camden has been asked for comment.