The Seven Dials Renaissance Study is the the key document in the work of the Trust. It provides a detailed framework for the care and enhancement of the total environment of the Seven Dials area. The first study was published in 1990 and was widely acclaimed as the first of its kind in London if not the UK. This led to a short congratulatory debate in the House of Lords and Government funding for the second edition followed, designed to provide a national exemplar of how to care for inner city conservation areas.
Keeping with the theme the new revised and updated Study (web-edition 2023) has been extended across the borough boundary down to Long Acre in Westminster and covers an enlarged area in Camden aptly named: The Seven Dials in Covent Garden Study.
The First edition (print-edition 1990) of The Study was hailed as a first for Camden and London as a whole. Following a short congratulatory debate in the House of Lords, the Trust was invited to apply for funding for a Second edition (print-edition 1998) as a national exemplar. It presents a long term holistic and practical vision for the maintenance and enhancement of this area and one which is being implemented by the local authorities and key freeholders working in partnership with the Trust. This approach relates to the Localism agenda and the emerging Neighbourhood Plans in central London Conservation Areas. An example of its influence and efficacy is that freeholders Shaftesbury PLC have invested more than £3 million implementing its recommendations for restoring façades.
“… this is the first time an holistic approach has been adopted to provide a detailed framework for the development of the total environment of an historic district of London… for this reason it could act as a model for other historic areas across the country…”
— English Heritage
“… this initiative… is a first for Camden and I believe possibly for Greater London as a whole… It seems the financing of a Study by local interests can produce a degree of discussion on issues affecting the character and appearance of an area, and a commitment to proposals for enhancement, which the received wisdom of the Local Authority preparing proposals for consultation, will not match.”
— London Borough of Camden
“… the Study and resulting material will serve as a national exemplar for other conservation area enhancement programmes…”
— The Civic Trust
“… it may be that your Study will show the way for other areas and inspire them to carry out detailed and objective studies and, therefore, implement them in the interest of sound conservation…”
— Lord Rippon, First Chairman of the Covent Garden Area Trust
“… it is a commendable design study that deserves national acclaim. The project represents an outstanding example of local initiative harnessing the efforts of the local community as well as private and public sectors and other funding bodies... The Study should be seen as a catalyst - fostering the improvement and quality of the built environment through London…”
— Royal Institute of British Architects
“… I cannot think of any study, and one which could immediately form an enhancement of policy for the area, which has been done so thoroughly. I welcome the attention to detail and the fundamental principles of urban design… the general methodology in analysing the area, the systematic survey, not least in respect of traffic, and the continuing underlying reference to historic origins, is a model of its kind… if the [Study] proposals for the Seven Dials area were carried out they would lead to a national show-piece and something to which many could turn as a source for guidance…”
— Chairman of Planning Policy (Conservation in the Built Environment)
Royal Town Planning Institute
Third edition (web-edition 2023):
For the new revised and updated Study (web-edition 2023) architectural photographer Guy Archard has produced brilliant images of over 300 buildings and architectural historian Dr. John Martin Robinson has completed his façade analysis and recommendations. The texts of the three previous volumes have been amalgamated and updated and a new section on harmonising the streets has been added.
We have acquired 300 historic images from the London Metropolitan Archives (kindly grant-aided by the Charles Hayward Foundation) and these sit beside the current architectural images — probably the most innovative feature of this project and a first according to the LMA who kindly waived their reproduction license fees.
The new web edition of the Study is dedicated to the memory of Francis Golding (1944-2013). Francis chaired the Trust's Environment Committee from 1994 and in particular chaired the Monitoring Committee which brought the last edition of the Seven Dials Renaissance Study to fruition. Francis died from injuries sustained whilst riding his bike home in November 2013.
A substantial proportion of the funding for the web edition is made up of donations in Francis's memory. The Trust is thankful to all who donated and hopes that it will be a fitting tribute to his life and work.