English Heritage called in to save RACS building in Tooting
Tooting history enthusiasts are calling in English Heritage to save an Art Deco building earmarked for demolition.
The Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society (RACS) building in Upper Tooting Road, which was built in 1923, was once a department store at the hub of the community, but it is currently home to a Hindu temple.
Now developers hope to replace the old building with student accommodation and a 76-bedroom hotel, with the council examining plans on June 15.
Dale Ingram, conservation spokesman at Tooting Local History Group, said: “This striking, beautiful and iconic building must not be lost.
“It is one of the few remaining buildings in Tooting of architectural merit and is a landmark feature of the townscape.”
Ms Ingram has written to English Heritage to ask that they make an emergency visit to the building so that it can be listed.
The architectural marvel, which was completed in three phases, features tiles and square motifs characteristic of the Art Deco movement.
It is one of Tooting’s last-standing historical buildings, alongside Gala Bingo, the Sik temple and the library on Mitcham Road.
The business was part of the Co-operative movement, which amalgamated during the 20th century and still runs convenience stores in many high streets.
It was founded upon the principle of democracy, where profits would be channelled back to people in the community who had joined as members.
The building once housed a community space for dancing, boxing and choir practise, as well as a banking hall and a vast array of shops.
Ms Ingram added: “The Co-operative in Tooting was designed and set up to run a cradle to grave range of goods and services for cooperative members. You could buy everything from a wedding dress and a cradle to your funeral service without ever leaving the Co-operative family.
“It’s an immensely important building in the history of Tooting and the townscape. It was a big store, and it was one of their busiest, with a very large number of members locally.”
The owner and developer of the site, Barrowfen Properties, has said the rebuild would “offer more benefits to the wider community”.
For more information, visit the “Save the RACS Building” group at facebook.com or to view the application, visit wandsworth.gov.uk and search for number 2010/1342 in the planning section.