Heritage Conservation Committee recommendations accepted

The Chennai Metro Rail Limited has submitted a revised plan for the Metro Rail stations that are close to the heritage buildings in George Town and on Poonamallee High Road. This is in response to the recommendations made by a subcommittee of the Heritage Conservation Committee constituted to mitigate the adverse impact the stations would have by blocking the view of the heritage buildings.

According to officials of Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), the recommendations of the Committee pertaining to changes in stations near Dr.Ambedkar Government Law College, Ripon Buildings, Victoria Public Hall, Central Railway Station, Ramaswamy Mudaliyar Choultry and Kilpauk Medical College have been accepted by CMRL.

The new plan would focus on change in height, colour, visibility, function and safety aspects of Metro Rail structures to aesthetically merge with the adjoining heritage buildings. The alignment of Metro Rail on Poonamallee High Road or in George Town would not be changed on account of the new plan.

Further, drawings and studies of visual impact of the proposed stations on the heritage structures on Anna Salai have also been requested by the Committee for evaluation. The CMRL is yet to submit the revised plan for Metro Rail structures on Anna Salai, which include Higginbotham's and Bharat Insurance Building.

The HCC would meet on November 22 to take a decision on the proposed changes.

Some of the structures of the proposed underground Metro stations such as the vents and entrance porches were found to be visually intrusive and dangerously close to the heritage buildings.

A total of 16 heritage structures including Wesley Tamil Aalayam on Broadway, Simpson building premises, P.ORR & Sons, SBI Building on Anna Salai, Addison & Co, Higginbotham's, Bharat Insurance Building, Poompuhar, May Day Park and Pachaiyappa College were found to be near the proposed alignment.

"The service structures of the metro stations may spoil the heritage value and beauty of the buildings. Case studies from abroad were cited to show that it is possible to have such modifications on the service structures,” said Monsingh D.Devadas, Dean, School of Architecture and Planning and member of Heritage Conservation Committee. The suggestions by the HCC focussed on the kind of material used for construction of entry structures or ventilation shaft near heritage buildings. Many suggestions pertaining to redesigning of entry or landscaping have also been accepted by the CMRL.

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