Naaah it's pure, unadulterated NIMBYism. Calm down, dear.
Mallet, Porter & Dowd before:
Mallet, Porter & Dowd after:
You know why this happens? Because someone wants to remodel a building from eighteen diggity two for, in this case, student housing and they're given two absolute, unflinching requirements:
1) They must meet or exceed modern building codes for accessibility, energy efficiency and safety
2) They must satisfy their local building council that they aren't changing the character of the neighborhood, subject to the whims of the neighborhood building council.
You're left with two choices: (A) gut the fuckin' building and leave a facade hanging (B) don't remodel.
The local building council has one obvious motivation: preserve the value of their neighborhood. I have friends who used to develop in London back in the '80s and they pointed out that the reason central london is so expensive is it was the only place that could have modern architecture because the Nazis bombed everything. We were buying beer at a bodega with a thatched fucking roof at the time.
HIlo, Hawaii is like this. If you want to remodel anything you have to bring it up to flood standards which means basically putting it on stilts. As Hilo is mostly full of natives, it's a run-down collection of shanties with moss growing inside. Kona, Hawaii is not like this. Because they expanded the airport to be closer to the resorts and the resorts are all built on bluffs so the tourists stay in modern, inviting white people skyscrapers.
Facadism is a direct response to local property owners doing everything they can to drive up property values. Especially in the UK: we're not talking about fucking Caernerfon we're talking about Victorian poor houses and sweatshops.