45 Beech Street – – change of use from office to co-living accommodation

The long-anticipated application from 45 Beech Street for “the partial demolition, extension and change of use of existing office building to co-living accommodation with associated internal and external amenity spaces (sui generis) including cycle storage, landscaping, servicing and all other associated works” has now been submitted.

The relevant reference number is 24/00176/FULL and all of the accompanying documents can be accessed here

Key points

The application proposes to retain and refurbish the majority of the existing building.

A few points from the Planning and Design & Access Statements may provide some key details.

Increase in height

The top two floors are not suitable for retention given the low floor to ceiling heights and general incompatibility for the proposed use. They are proposed to be removed and replaced with four new floors of new built form.

The existing building (which peaks at 8 storeys and 42.36m AOD) will have a net increase in height of two floors – with a final finished maximum height of 50m AOD (7.64m increase – or 18%).

In terms of floor area, the existing building comprises 5,284sqm (GIA The application proposes to retain and refurbish the majority of the existing building.

A few points from the Planning and Design & Access Statements may provide some key details) of office floorspace. It is proposed to demolish 957.1sqm (GIA) and add a total of 2,641.2sqm (GIA) of new floorspace. This would equate to a 1,684.2sqm increase in floorspace and result in a final building comprising 6,968.2sqm (GIA) of co-living floorspace… (n.b. this equates to a 32% increase in floorspace).

External amenity space

External amenity space is proposed in the form of a roof terrace and courtyard measuring providing a total of 200sqm of space.

A communal terrace is carefully incorporated to offer elevated social spaces. The design includes stepped seating arrangements that create a theatre like atmosphere, providing an ideal setting for various activities such as film screenings or events with the use of a screen or projector. The expansive space allows for versatile seating arrangements, enabling the easy movement of tables and chairs to adapt to different needs

Three key areas of landscaping are proposed across the development. For use by residents, the rooftop terrace and the ground level courtyard have both been sensitively designed to provide for specific amenity uses. The courtyard has been programmed with integrated seating, tall planters and sculptural screens to provide shelter, protection and seclusion.

The courtyard at ground floor level has been designed to provide a more animated amenity space; with material that delineates the existing roadway, extensive seating and benches; and playful materials, planting and colour palettes.

On the Beech Street interface, a city garden is proposed which seeks to provide a planted buffer zone between road and building. The use of planters (repurposed from the current development), and trees would provide amenity across the street scene and mark a distinctive entrance to the building.

Form and massing

The form and scale of the additional massing has been heavily influenced by the vernacular of the adjacent Bryer Court and Ben Jonson House. This will ensure full compatibility of this modern development with the existing Barbican development”.

What will the proposed development provide?

The Proposed Development will provide high quality co-living accommodation with 174 co-living rooms of which 10% will be accessible rooms. A series of shared spaces are proposed, which includes 200sqm of shared outdoor amenity space in the form of a roof terrace and courtyard and 690sqm shared internal amenity space including co-working space, kitchens, lounges, a café, gym and tv room.

All of the co-living rooms are for rent and minimum tenancy lengths will be no less than three months.

Daylight and Sunlight/Overlooking

In terms of loss of daylight and sunlight to neighbouring properties – and as is seemingly always the case in such applications – the accompanying assessment “confirms that the majority of the neighbouring windows and rooms meet the guideline values. Where windows and rooms have been identified to fall short of the guidelines, these are mainly isolated to the neighbouring property at 6-9 Bridgwater Square which contains windows and rooms on its south elevation which face directly into the courtyard and therefore onto the development site”.

Detailed daylight and sunlight analyses, including those for Defoe House, Shakespeare Tower and Ben Jonson House can be seen here.

In recognition of its proximity to Barbican, consideration has been given to the proximity of the South facade to the edge of the Barbican podium, especially in relation to privacy and overlooking risks to the south facing first floor rooms. The internal layout of these rooms differs from the typical room layout to allow kitchen and living area located closer to the facade and bed/rest area of a more discreet nature, further pushed in the room to increase privacy and avoiding a direct overlooking

Views from the Podium can be viewed here, here and here

Concerns

Concerns may exist over some aspects of this application and the possible negative impact on residential amenity.

Anyone wishing to submit a representation with regard to this application can do so here.

The Standard Consultation Expiry Date for representations is 26th March 2024.

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