Planning update 28th October 2021

1 Golden Lane acquired by Castleforge Partners

It has been announced that, following the departure of UBS, property investment firm Castleforge Partners has acquired 1 Golden Lane and plans to fully refurbish the building ‘as part of its renewed strategy for investment in London’s commercial market’. The firm has stated that the internal structure is to be redesigned and will ‘incorporate roof gardens and landscaping around the building to improve the area for incoming occupiers and local stakeholders’.

As this project is in its very early stages, no preliminary plans are available as yet (a pity as it will be very interesting indeed to see where they plan to locate the roof gardens on those pitched zinc roofs). However, the developers are in the process of contacting all key stakeholders to introduce themselves and we have been advised that briefings are due to begin shortly, perhaps as early as next week.

We will obviously provide updates as and when we know more.  

New Barbican Centre boss has big plans for the future

Not strictly to do with Planning Matters, but in a recent article in The Times, the headline of an interview with new Barbican Centre boss Will Gompertz (ex BBC) says that he wants “to turn the Barbican into the Old Trafford of the arts”. He apparently chose Old Trafford as an icon for the Barbican Centre to aspire to as it was a place which not only showcases “the greatest practioners in the world” (really? – did you see the game last Sunday Mr Gompertz?!) but also means “something very deep and personal to millions of people who live around”.  

Moving swiftly on, the article reports that Mr Gompertz has “adored the Barbican Centre” for years and describes it as an “architectural masterpiece”. When asked what his plans for the Centre’s future were, he responded that “the journey is to turn the Barbican from being an international arts centre into an international arts, education and enterprise centre”.  One way to achieve this would be via “creative enterprise” – he would like the Barbican “to set up a venture capital fund, using private money from City financiers, so it becomes a hub of support for new creative businesses”. The article goes on “He even knows where they could be housed. We have huge exhibition halls, he says, What are we going to do with those? You could put a school in. We have amazing car parks. How could they be repurposed?”

Schools in exhibition halls? Repurposed car parks? Interesting times may lie ahead! The full article can be read here 

Decision on the Tulip

Again whilst not strictly a planning issue affecting the Barbican Estate, just to update that the Planning Inspectorate has recently written to all the parties to the Public Inquiry advising that the Appeal on ‘the Tulip’ will be made by way of a decision from Government on or before 11 November 2021.

Please let them come to the right decision!

Planning update – 12 October 2021

Second application to install outside furniture on terrace at 1 London Wall withdrawn

We are pleased to note that the second, and slightly revised, application from 1 London Wall to install a pergola, furniture and lighting to the tenth-floor terrace has been withdrawn. This is the second time that the application has been withdrawn so we do not discount the prospect of a third being prepared. Obviously only time will tell…..but it is certainly welcome news for now.

2 London Wall Place apply to restrict the hours of use of the terrace

We are also pleased to advise that the owners of 2 London Wall Place, in their application for the change of use of the vacant first floor space from retail to office, have requested that the City impose a condition restricting the hours of use of the terrace to between 8am and 9.30pm, thus removing concerns over potential noise nuisance. Several objections had been lodged with the City citing concerns about use of the terrace at unsocial hours but following this updated application, these objections have now been withdrawn.    

Two temporary illuminated sculptures to be installed on Highwalk

A recent application has been submitted from 1 London Wall Place for the “installation and display of two illuminated sculptures on the Highwalk for a temporary period between 29th October 2021 and 30th January 2022”.

Click here to view how the two proposed pieces of lighting art, called Nest and Ivy Wall, will look in situ both during the day and at night-time. Given the distance from the residential blocks, it does not appear that they will cause any particular light pollution issues for any residents if anyone feels that it may be an issue they can comment here.  

Police stations to become hotels

The City landscape around us continues to undergo substantial change. The City recently approved plans for a new combined City of London Police headquarters and courts facility at Fleet Street. This has led to the decisions to close both the Wood Street and Snow Hill Police Stations and planning permission has now been granted for their conversion into hotels.

Snow Hill Police Station to become new Premier Inn

At the Planning & Transportation Committee meeting held on 21st September, plans “to transform the former Snow Hill Police Station into a ‘hub by Premier Inn’ hotel” were approved. This will be Whitbread’s third hub hotel in the City and is targeted to open in 2023/24.

Wood Street Police Station to become a luxury hotel

The conversion of Wood Street Police Station into a premium hotel was approved on 1st October 2021. The developer is a subsidiary of Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed Magnificent Hotel Investments Ltd. Questions have been asked as to what will happen to the stables and the cells – the answer is that the stables are to be converted into a restaurant and the cells into a whisky bar. Could be interesting!

Planning & Licensing News – update 7th September 2021

London Wall Car Park – conversion of part as an Amazon Last Mile Logistics Hub

The long-expected application for the change of use of part of the existing underground carpark in London Wall “from 41 car parking spaces to a last mile delivery hub” (namely Amazon) has now been submitted to the City’s Planning Department. The proposal “will comprise the provision of electric cargo bike storage spaces, the provision of security cages to store parcels, welfare facilities and an office area, an amended vehicular access route through this section of the carpark and use of the existing layby for reception of deliveries by HGVs”.

Several of us met with Amazon and the City of London back in April as part of the consultation process to hear the proposals. We would remind however that they had already been presented to and agreed in theory by the Planning & Transportation Committee at its meeting of 15th December 2020 when it was “therefore concluded that the proposals would be welcomed assuming the planning application for change of use was approved”.

The formal planning application for that change of use has now been submitted. The reference number is 21/00419/FULL and it can be viewed here

Objections have already been submitted 

A number of objections have already been submitted from nearby residents, principally citing, inter alia, loss of residential amenity (in particular noise), danger to pedestrians, increased traffic flows and inappropriate location abutting as it does a Grade II and Grade II* residential estate and gardens in a designated Conservation Area. With proposed operating hours of 7am-8pm, the increase in noise and traffic produced by the hub will have an inevitable impact on the residents in the area, most particularly in the early and late hours of operation. The entrance to the car park is too low for the Amazon lorries to enter and so the parcels will be unloaded in the external drop-off bay opposite to the entrance and put into trollies/cages to then be wheeled into the car park for allocation and onward delivery via bike or trolley. The suggestion in the accompanying documents therefore that “ambient noise” will cover any increased noise from the hub is therefore, in my opinion, surely risible. 

The location of the proposed unloading bay is actually the drop-off bay for visitors to Bastion House and is located not only right by the remains of the Roman Wall but also right by the pedestrian access to the site and the gardens. Looking further ahead, what chaos may ensue when the London Wall West scheme commences is anyone’s guess. We have no objection to the theory of introducing logistics hubs given their clear and obvious benefits in terms of reducing the number of vehicles on the roads, better air quality (once the delivery vehicles are all electric of course) etc etc but there surely might be a better location than this for such a scheme given the restrictions of the site.  

The BA is therefore also planning to join the list of objectors on the grounds described above. The Standard Consultation Expiry date is 23rd September.  Anyone wishing to also comment on the plans can do so here

Other news in brief

45 Beech Street – application for communications eqpt upgrade approved

The Planning Officer’s Report of 24th August 2021 has approved the proposed upgrade to an existing telecommunications installation situated on the rooftop of 45 Beech Street. The report states “It is considered that the re-sited existing and proposed new antennae would not significantly alter the appearance of the building from the street, and would not harm the setting and significance of the Barbican and Golden Lane Conservation Area; the Barbican Estate as a grade II listed building; or to the Barbican Estate as a grade II* registered historic park and garden. It is recommended that prior approval be approved”.

An email was sent asking the Planning Officer how and when approval had been granted to install the equipment that is already there in situ. The answer, however, was somewhat disappointing stating as it did “we do not have a definitive record for when they were installed. This would have been under Class A, Part 24 of Schedule 2 of the GDPO 1995, which was superseded in 2015. However, I can confirm the City has a record of letter notifying us of the developer’s intention to utilise their permitted development rights to upgrade an existing telecoms base station at 45 Beech Street in 2013, so it would follow that there had been apparatus at the site from before then”. 

The author therefore remains astounded not only that permission was ever granted for such an installation given the location but also that there was no consultation and no-one has any memory or record of it. Enough said!

Planning & Licensing update – 27th August

In terms of new applications, there have been few of particular note submitted over the past month. On the domestic front, residential flat refurbishment applications where Listed Building Consent is required continue to flow through steadily. Indeed, there have been 23 in the year to date compared to just 10 in the same period last year – no wonder we have all had to buy new ear plugs!  

On the commercial front there are a couple of issues which should be highlighted. The first relates to two recent applications from 21 Moorfields and the second to an application from 2 London Wall Place for change of use of the vacant space on the ground/first floor from restaurant to offices.

21 Moorfields – bollards  – and orange lighting

By way of brief background, the development at 21 Moorfields is moving relentlessly onwards and upwards. Whilst planning permission for the scheme was granted some time ago, conditions (as is the case for virtually all major developments) were attached to that permission which require further details to be submitted and approved at various stages. In this regard, the developers have recently submitted two Material Discharge Conditions (MDCs).


The first relates to details of the proposed “hostile vehicle mitigation measures” (ie. bollards) that are being proposed to provide security for the building in Moor Lane (planning reference number:19/00717/MDC)

An article detailing this application “Moor Lane – why such a poor relation to London Wall” has already been posted on the website. The BA has submitted an objection to this application  and has asked the City planners that, before any planning permission is waved through, proper co-ordination with the Moor Lane greening scheme be established. A proposal could then be submitted for a more appropriate design that would enhance the design of the streetscape which could then be taken to the promised Consultation on the scheme in September.

If anyone feels that they would also like to comment on this application then please just click here.

……and orange lighting for the City Walkway Bridge over Moor Lane??

The developers then submitted another application, this time relating to alterations to City Walkway Bridge over Moor Lane. (planning reference number: 19/00186/MDC).

Again by way of brief background, we were told at a recent online meeting with the developers that the underside of the cantilevered section of the Walkway Bridge is to be orange and the proposal is to light it so that the light falls onto the steps below. If the orange is to light the steps then it will clearly be on 24/7. The planning application submitted does not actually show this proposed orange lighting, an omission which we feel is rather misleading, as the pictures below demonstrate. The first one shows the proposal with the orange cantilevered section whilst the second is the picture submitted in the application – showing no orange at all.

Given the proximity to the many bedrooms opposite, we plan to object to this on the grounds of light pollution and loss of residential amenity. Orange lighting is, in our view, also not in keeping with the character and appearance of the surrounding Grade II Listed buildings directly opposite. 

The BA and nearby residents have objected to this proposal. Subtle lighting on the steps themselves would surely be a more sensible solution and would not affect the lives of so many residents in the near vicinity.   If any resident is of a similar view, they can similarly object by commenting on this proposal here

2 London Wall Place – change from restaurant to office use

An application from 2 London Wall Place (ref: 21/00678/FULL) has been submitted for the change of use of the vacant part on ground/first floor from restaurant to office use. From the nearby residents’ point of view, this clearly seems a better option than a restaurant – and, indeed, far better than the events management company which we understand had previously shown interest!

The only potential cause for concern is the use – or more precisely the timing of the use – of the small patio area abutting the Highwalk. The managers of the property, Brookfield Estates, confirmed that the patio area would form part of the site and the occupants would be able to use it even though it was not demised. They did reassure however that stringent rules would be imposed as to the use of the outside space and when and what it could or could not be used for.

However, in order to both protect residents’ amenity and prevent noise disturbance, we are of the view that a condition should form part of any approval granted which would limit the hours of usage of the outside space to, say, 9pm. It is our intention therefore to request that the City of London Planning Department consider this.

If any resident is of a similar view, they can similarly request that this condition should form part of any planning approval by commenting on the relevant webpage here

On a lighter note……….

For anyone who did not see this recent article in The Guardian headed “Does London really need a gigantic glowing orb the height of Big Ben?” can read it here. Let us hope that the City planners have not seen it and get any ideas……………

And finally, the first sighting of the “C” word. For those who think it is still summer, a recent application has been submitted for the proposed use of Broadgate Circle for a “temporary Christmas Forest installation”. And yes it really is only August………………

Planning & Licensing update 30th July 2021

BA response to Barbican and Golden Lane Estate Conservation Area Consultation

As previously advised, the City of London Corporation has been conducting a consultation on the Barbican and Golden Lane Conservation Area Character Summary and Management Strategy. This document describes the special character and appearance of the Conservation Area and sets out how it is applied in the Planning Process. Residents were invited to comment on the document which can be viewed here.  The closing date for comments is today, Friday 30 July 2021.

The Barbican Association has prepared and submitted a formal response which can be viewed here

In its response the BA refers to a copy of the consultation document which has been marked up with a detailed series of additions and comments by Mr Fred Rodgers. Fred Rodgers is a member of the Barbican Association (BA) Planning Sub-Committee although his response, which can be viewed here, has been submitted in his personal capacity. He has subsequently made some minor amendments which can be seen here.

Planning & Licensing update 12th July 2021

Behaviour signage installation granted approval

It is good to report that approval was granted (finally!) on 6th July 2021 for the replacement of behaviour signage across the Barbican Estate. As previously advised, the signs are 600mm wide and 300mm high and are to be placed at 30 strategic locations around the Estate, chosen so as to be visible from entrances on to the Highwalks. We hope that their installation will take place soon and will help to deter cycling, skateboarding and other anti-social behaviours around the Estate. 

1 London Wall terrace application re-appears

It was disappointing to see the re-emergence of the application to install a pergola, furniture and lighting on the 10th floor terrace at 1 London Wall given the very clear potential for noise disturbance for neighbouring properties. A number of objections have been lodged but, at the time of writing, no formal decision has yet been taken by the City’s Planning Dept.  Full details of the application (ref: 21/00374/FULL) can be viewed here

City Place House – application approved

Onwards, and forever upwards…..and outwards. At its most recent meeting, the City’s Planning & Licensing Committee approved the application to demolish City Place House (55 Basinghall Street) and replace it with a building over 80% larger and able to accommodate a more than doubling of worker numbers. This is despite having received a plethora of objections on the grounds of its inappropriate height and mass, the inevitable impact of residential amenity – in particular regarding loss of light – and environmental concerns regarding its demolition rather than refurbishment given the growing awareness of pollution from embodied carbon. Calls for a marginal scaling back of the size and for the height of the proposed development to be maintained at its present level fell on the usual deaf ears.

Hence another massive new structure is to join the City of London’s approved planning list and the consequent mushrooming skyline. The City of London issued a self-congratulatory press release straight after the meeting was completed which can be read here    

As a general comment, it is perhaps rather ironic that the City of London has agreed to yet another building being demolished given its apparent strong stance on reducing carbon emissions. Indeed, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has recently been reported as saying that buildings should be refurbished rather than demolished given the amount of carbon emitted by creating the steel, cement and bricks for the construction of a new building. This is known as embodied carbon.

This is backed up by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) which has estimated that 35% of the lifecycle carbon from a typical office development is emitted before the building is even opened. This suggests that it will be decades before some new buildings pay back their carbon debt by saving more emissions than they created – and yet these are decades when carbon emissions have to be sharply reduced. Given the significant number of approvals granted by the City of London planners in recent times for the demolition of existing buildings and their replacement by massive new developments (just look at the Eastern cluster) the word irony possibly doesn’t even come close….

Wood Street Bar & Restaurant pavement licence

On the Licensing front, applications for the granting or extension of pavement licences have, for obvious reasons, been plentiful. In response to numerous objections, the Wood Street Bar & Restaurant withdrew its original application for 60 outside table places and, following consultations with nearby residents, re-submitted a modified application for 22 outside table places for guests purchasing food for use between the hours of 11.30am – 19.30pm Monday to Friday only and not at weekends. This was accepted. Let us hope that the granting of this pavement licence helps the Bar get back on its feet after such a difficult time for the hospitality industry.

5G roll out gathering pace

As everyone will surely be aware, the roll out of 5G is gathering pace across the country and the City has not been immune from this, with a spate of applications submitted to install or upgrade the necessary equipment on roofs across the Square Mile. Two current applications submitted in the vicinity of the Barbican are from 1 London Wall Place (ref: 21/00351/DPAR – click here to view the details) and 45 Beech Street (ref: 21/00561/DPAR – click here to view the details). The installation at 1 London Wall Place would be a new site whilst the application for 45 Beech Street is an upgrade of the existing telecomms equipment already in place but which would necessitate raising ‘the height of the antennas on the south facing elevation.. by just 0.5m…’ Concerns over such installations exist given the proximity to residential premises but these concerns will inevitably be weighed against the economic and social benefits of the 5G rollout. Residents can view and comment on these applications by clicking on the links shown above

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