Planning & Licensing update -17th June 2021

Wood Street Bar & Restaurant – submits revised application for pavement licence

Wood Street Bar & Restaurant has submitted a revised application for a pavement licence. It is clear that the application has been modified significantly from the previous one, which was withdrawn, in that it is applying for the establishment of 5 tables of 4 chairs and 1 table of 2 chairs (total 22 chairs) vs the previous application proposing 10 tables of 6 chairs (total 60 chairs).

As for the proposed times, the establishment is applying for their use between the hours of 11.30am – 19.30pm Monday to Friday (the previous application also asked for Sundays 11.30am – 17.30pm). The accompanying note says that tables will be set up between 11.00-11.30am. Guests will be able to use the tables between the hours of 12.00pm to 19.00pm if they purchase a “substantial” meal ie. one costing over £7. No groups are to be allowed to stand near the tables. The planned modus operandi can be viewed here.

This revised supplication has come about following consultation between the landlord of the Wood Street Bar & Restaurant and nearby residents. The landlord accepted that the previous unacceptable application had been made without sufficient prior forethought and, after listening to the concerns of nearby residents, significantly modified his plans.   

The current application has taken notice of residents’ requests to ameliorate the potential noise and smoke nuisance. In particular the landlord has agreed to the following: 1) not to apply for a weekend licence 2) to reduce the number of outside seating spaces from 60 to 22 3) to bring tables in by 7.30 on weekday evenings 4) to only use these tables for guests willing to purchase food to discourage ‘drinking parties’ 5) to use parasols to soften rising noise in appropriate weather conditions 6) not to allow drinkers to wander around outside and 7) to take hourly noise readings to inform the management of potential neighbour nuisance.

On this significantly revised basis, the application has not been opposed and the landlord was thanked for his time and co-operation.  Thanks too to the residents who achieved this seemingly satisfactory compromise and let us hope that the landlord will stick to his agreement and will monitor the situation as closely as he has promised to. Let us hope too that the granting of a pavement licence helps the Bar to get back on its feet after such a dreadful time for the hospitality industry.

Planning & Transportation Committee meeting update

The last meeting of the Planning & Transportation Committee was held on Tuesday, 8th June 2021. As we have previously indicated, this was a very important meeting as the key item for discussion was Item 4 on the agenda  headed Governance Review: Planning Panel Arrangements 

This agenda item was significant in that the outcome could have a profound impact on the way planning decisions are made in the City of London. In essence the City was looking at introducing four smaller planning panels rather than the full committee for the future consideration of planning applications. This would be on a geographic basis and would have the effect of splitting the Barbican Estate into two zones

Again, as previously advised, the potential introduction of such panels would reduce the number of committee members who would be able to participate in a planning decision which, in our view, was likely to reduce democratic accountability further. The proposal had already been decisively rejected in principle by the 1270 signatories of the recent petition on the matter, many of whom are City residents.

Ahead of this meeting it was clear that the Policy & Resources Committee had already voted in favour of introducing a new panel system. The debate at the Planning & Transportation meeting was long, with strong expressions of support voiced for both the maintenance of the status quo (ie. the full Planning Committee to consider planning applications) and the move towards the establishment of panels. The meeting can be viewed here

A large part of the debate focused on how membership of planning panels would be determined if indeed such a move were to be accepted. Much concern was voiced about the suggestion that planning applications could be determined on a fixed geographical basis. Some members thought that this could both further exacerbate the concerns expressed in the petition regarding democratic accountability and also possibly lead to a divergence in policy determination.

Finally, a vote on the motion to introduce panels was called. 14 voted in favour, 10 voted against and 1 member abstained. A vote was then taken on the introduction of panels to be constructed on a geographical basis.  20 members voted against and 5 members abstained.

The principle of panels was therefore agreed but the basis and detail on which such panels were to be constructed are still to be determined. The results of this vote are to be reported back to the Policy & Resources Committee to be discussed further at its meeting on 8th July 2021 and then go to the Court of Common Council on 22nd July 2021. The next Planning & Transportation Committee meeting is to be held at 10.30am on Tuesday 29th June.

Replacement of Behaviour Signage across the Barbican Estate – decision expected shortly

A decision is expected shortly from the City of London with regard to the recent application for Listed Building Consent to replace/install behaviour signage across the Barbican Estate. For those who may not have seen or been aware of this, the reference number of the planning application is 21/00325/LBC and this link depicts the new signage that has been proposed.  

In terms of size, the signs are to be 600mm wide, 300mm high and 19mm deep to be placed at 30 strategic locations around the Estate, chosen so as to be “visible from entrances on to the Highwalks”. As part of the application, a map of and the projected locations for the signage is provided which can be viewed here.  

If you have any problems with the above links, please visit the page for the planning application and select the first item listed (‘Sign Specification’) to view the new signage, and the fourth item listed (‘Behaviour signs: proposed locations’) to view images of the proposed locations for the signage.

Planning & Licensing News 4th June 2021

1 London Wall – revised 10th floor terrace planning application; ref: 21/00374/FULL

Another application has been received from 1 London Wall for the “installation of external structures including 1x pergola and fixed furniture, and external lighting to the tenth floor terrace”. This replaces the application made late last year (ref: 20/00966/FULL) which was withdrawn on 28th April 2021. The covering letter accompanying the application provides some detailed background and purports to address the concerns raised by the 28 objection letters received when the previous application was submitted.

The letter, understandably, focuses on the benefits of the application ie. enhancing the quality of the existing office accommodation, forming a more usable and attractive outdoor space for the office, supporting social distancing policy, allowing for more flexible working practices etc etc ……………..

No mention of private functions and events…

The previous application talked of “the external terrace will be used primarily by members of staff for temporary work space, breakout space, private functions and events”. This most recent application makes no mention whatsoever of private functions and events and infers the terrace “is solely for the use of the office” 

No external bar shown on revised plans…….

Comparing the two sets of terrace plans, it appears that the revised application does NOT include the installation of an outside terrace bar under the pergola. surprisingly, the application does not highlight this as the installation of a fixed external bar was one of the  key issues of concern.   

The standard consultation expiry date for this application is 17th June 2021 and any comments can be submitted to the City of London’s Planning Department here

Next Planning & Transportation Committee meeting – 10.30am Tuesday 8th June 2021

The next meeting of the Planning & Transportation Committee is to be held at 10.30am on Tuesday, 8th June 2021. The key item for discussion on the agenda is Item 4, headed Governance Review: Planning Panel Arrangements 

This is a very important item as the outcome could have a profound impact on the way planning decisions are made in the City of London. In essence the City is looking at introducing four smaller planning panels rather than the full committee for the future consideration of planning applications. This would be on a geographic basis and would have the effect of splitting the Barbican Estate into two zones

The potential introduction of such panels would reduce the number of committee members who participate in a planning decision which, in our view, is likely to reduce democratic accountability further.

Whilst it is clear that the Policy & Resources Committee is already in favour of introducing a new panel system, the proposal has been decisively rejected in principle by the 1270 signatories of the recent petition, including 14 City councillors.

Following the debate at this Planning & Transportation Committee meeting, the topic will then be discussed further at the Policy & Resources Committee of 8th July 2021 and then go to the Court of Common Council on 22nd July 2021.

Recent press article re the City of London’s planning process

An article written by Mark Bostock, a resident councillor for the Cripplegate Ward, has recently been published in Architects Journal. The article is titled “The City of London’s Planning Process is rigged in favour of developers” and commences with the comment “Applicants have a huge advantage over residents and heritage concerns when proposing Square Mile office towers that nobody needs, argues Mark Bostock”.

He continues ” I, and others, have considerable concerns that the planning process of the City of London Corporation lacks democratic accountability and transparency. The Corporation’s leadership is currently backing a proposal that would make this process even less accountable. I, therefore, am one of the sponsors of a petition to stop this proposal and introduce reforms. The petition has attracted strong support from the City’s small residential population and also from people concerned with the preservation of our heritage, which is being quietly demolished or degraded by a series of poor planning decisions”.

The full article can be read here