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 It is clear that the application has been modified significantly from the previous one, which was withdrawn, in that it is applying for the establishment of 5 tables of 4 chairs and 1 table of 2 chairs (total 22 chairs) vs the previous application proposing 10 tables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

Wood Street Bar & Restaurant application for a pavement licence

The application was for a pavement licence to set up 60 table places directly outside the bar “to be used by persons for consumption of food or drink” on the following days and times: Monday-Friday 11.30am – 7.30pm and Saturday-Sunday 11.30am- 5.30pm.

Following receipt of a spate of objections we learned that the application had been temporarily withdrawn, although as Mary Durcan CC commented,

“I gather this application has now been withdrawn but that another application will be submitted in a few days’ time.”

We would remind that this a pavement licence, not a planning application and that pavement licences are granted under new legislation introduced by the Government during the pandemic (see below for details).

As all residents will be aware, the concrete amphitheatre effect of groups of people directly outside residents’ premises smoking and drinking is likely to be substantial. There has, as far as I am aware, still been no consultation with residents or the BA.

This is the full Government guide to pavement licences.

However, life is short and so some of the key points are:

What is a pavement licence and how long is it valid for?

A pavement licence is a licence granted by the local authority… which allows the licence-holder to place removable furniture over certain highways adjacent to the premises….. This is a streamlined process to allow businesses to secure these licences in time for the summer and, where they are deemed to have been granted, allow these licences to remain in place for a year but not beyond 30 September 2021. Where a pavement licence is granted, clear access routes on the highway will need to be maintained, taking into account the needs of all users, including disabled people.

Planning permission not required

Once a licence is granted, or deemed to be granted, the applicant will also benefit from deemed planning permission to use the land for anything done pursuant to the licence while the licence is valid.

Very quick consultation process

Pavement licences are presently granted primarily under Part 7A of the Highways Act 1980. The fee for applying for a licence under the new process is capped at £100 and the consultation period is 5 working days (excluding public holidays) starting the day after the application is sent electronically to the authority.

If the local authority does not determine the application before the end of the determination period the licence is deemed to have been granted for a year (but not beyond 30 September 2021) and the business can place the proposed furniture such as tables and chairs within the area set out in the application for the purpose or purposes proposed.

Planning and Licensing News Update – May 2021

  • The BA has submitted its response to the consultation on the City’s Draft Local Plan. You can read it here.
  • A small group is proposing changes to the City’s Code of Practice for Deconstruction and Construction sites to make it stronger in its protection of neighbours of building sites. Contact Jane Smith for more information

Planning Applications

The current situation with regard to recent planning applications is as follows:

New planning applications received

City Place House (ref: 21/00116/FULMAJ)

  • The application for the demolition of the 9-storey City Place House at 55 Basinghall Street and its replacement with a 12-storey building “for commercial, business and service use with retail use at ground floor level” has now been validated. The new development will see a major expansion of the site’s footprint (from c24500sq m to c45000 sq m) and the closure of Highwalk from London Wall to Guildhall whilst construction work is taking place
  • The application also includes the partial demolition, reconfiguration and refurbishment of the lower floors of the adjacent City Tower (40 Basinghall Street). The existing first floor terrace area is to be reconfigured and re-landscaped and a new pedestrian route will be created between London Wall and Basinghall Street.
  • This application also involves the rescission and alteration of areas of the City Walkway through City Place House and City Tower, and the rescission and alterations to the city walkway and walkway bridge over Basinghall Street. This will include the partial removal, re-alignment and reinstatement of the Bassishaw Highwalk.
  • In conjunction with the above application, there is an associated application (65-65A Basinghall Street; ref: 21/00201/LBC) concerning the removal of part of the Highwalk and installation of a new City Walkway bridge

Full details of these applications can be viewed here.

Barbican Estate signage (ref: 21/00325/LBC)

The City of London Planning Dept has finally published the application for Listed Building Consent for the “replacement of behaviour signage across the Barbican Estate”.

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”.

Full details of this application can be viewed here

Planning applications approved

  • 18-19 Long Lane: refurbishment and increase in height of 2 floors (approval granted 23 March 2021; ref: 20/00798/FULL)
  • Ironmongers Hall: addition of two floor to Ferroner’s House (approval granted 30 March 2021; ref:20/00986/FULL)

Planning applications approved by the Planning & Transportation Committee but yet to be formally ratified

  • 150 Aldersgate Street: two additional floors + expansion into Bartholomew Place (ref:20/00371/FULMAJ)
  • 1-12 Long Lane: demolition of existing buildings and construction of 10-storey office building (ref: 18/01020/FULMAJ)

Planning applications submitted but still to come to the Planning & Transportation Committee for approval

  • The Turrett: conversion into residential flat (ref:20/00272/LBC)
  • Wood Street Police Station: conversion of site into luxury hotel and spa (ref: 20/00773/FULL & 20/00774/LBC)

If you would like any further information on these or see any previous applications made over the past five years then please contact Sue Cox for a full list.

Planning applications pending

  • In December 2020, the Planning and Transportation Committee approved the repurposing of 39 spaces in London Wall Car Park for use as an Amazon last mile logistics hub. This is part of the City’s 25-year Transport Strategy to reduce the number of motorised freight vehicles on its streets and lessen traffic congestion.

    This proposal is, however, subject to Amazon Logistics obtaining planning consent for the change of use of the space and it is expected that the planning application will be submitted “in the coming weeks”

Next Planning & Transportation Committee meeting

The next Planning & Transportation Committee meeting is to be held on Tuesday 8th June 2021.

Once the agenda is published, we will inform of the key items accordingly.

Licensing

On the Licensing front, the number of applications submitted for pavement licences has increased significantly in the past few weeks as the prospect of the easing of lockdown gathers pace.

What are pavement licences ?

A pavement licence is a licence granted by the local authority… which allows the licence-holder to place removable furniture over certain highways adjacent to the premises….. these licences to remain in place for a year but not beyond 30 September 2021. Where a pavement licence is granted, clear access routes on the highway will need to be maintained, taking into account the needs of all users, including disabled people.

Planning permission is not required – once a licence is granted, or deemed to be granted, the applicant will also benefit from deemed planning permission to use the land for anything done pursuant to the licence while the licence is valid.

Very quick consultation process

Pavement licences are presently granted primarily under Part 7A of the Highways Act 1980. …..The fee for applying for a licence under the new process, is capped at £100 and the consultation period is 5 working days (excluding public holidays) starting the day after the application is sent electronically to the authority.

If the local authority does not determine the application before the end of the determination period….. the licence is deemed to have been granted …..and the business can place the proposed furniture such as tables and chairs within the area set out in the application for the purpose or purposes proposed.

Wood Street Bar & Restaurant – licence applied for and then withdrawn

Wood Street Bar & Restaurant in Fore Street submitted and then withdrew an application for a pavement licence to set up 60 table places directly outside the bar “to be used by persons for consumption of food or drink” on the following days and times: Monday-Friday 11.30am – 7.30pm and Saturday-Sunday 11.30am- 5.30pm.

Many objections to this application were lodged prior to its withdrawal. Our understanding is that a revised plan will be submitted by the premises in due course and we will respond accordingly once the new details are known

Other pavement applications in the reasonably close vicinity of the Barbican Estate include:

St Barts Brewery, 66 West Smithfield

The Globe PH, 83 Moorgate

Costa Coffee, 67 Long Lane for a new pavement licence Monday-Sunday 6.30am – 5.30pm

Dose, 70 Long Lane for a new pavement licence Monday-Saturday 7.00am – 5.00pm

Apulia, 50 Long Lane has applied for a new pavement Monday-Sunday 12pm-11pm

Area news update

  • 2021 The Square Mile – Future City
    The City Corporation has recently published a document entitled “2021 The Square Mile: Future City” which sets out how the City “must adapt to post-pandemic economic and social trends in order to remain a world-leading ecosystem”. The report sets out a “vision for the next five years with detailed actions to enhance the City’s competitiveness and attractiveness……..to ensure the Square Mile is the world’s most innovative, inclusive and sustainable ecosystem as well as an attractive place to work, live, learn and visit”. The report can be read here.
  • Changing City Skyline
    A recently published press release from the City of London Corporation shows “updated images visualising how the Square Mile’s skyline will look by the mid 2020s. The new images capture all major developments which have been resolved to approve by the City’s Planning & Transportation Committee over the past 12 months. The release contains a list of the 12 new buildings approved and their heights, which range from 135m-304.9m. There are also approx 6 further tall buildings (of over 75m) applications currently being discussed by the City of London Corporation’s Planning Team with developers. The full press release can be read here.
  • City of London’s “unwavering” confidence in resilience of City’s office market
    In a letter to the Editor of the Financial Times, the City of London Corporation stated that it was “simply incorrect” of the newspaper to suggest that the Corporation was “looking to tilt the balance away from the primary business role of the Square Mile through converting offices to housing” as part of its recovery plans. The Corporation reiterated that “offices remain at the core of our recovery plan” and that it had “committed to growing high quality office floorspace by a minimum of 2m sq metres during the period 2016-2036 in our draft City Plan. Indeed the press release confirmed that the Planning & Transportation Committee had “granted consent to applications equivalent of almost 80% of the total office floorspace – or 190,297 sq metres – approved for the whole of last year”. The full letter can be read here.
  • Centre for Music no more….but Barbican Centre to get major facelift
    As most people will now be aware, the City has confirmed that “given the current unprecedented circumstances, its ambitious plans for a Centre for Music will not be progressed. Alternative proposals for the site – currently occupied by the Museum of London – will be brought forward over the coming months”. The accompanying press release states that instead there is to be “a major renewal of the City’s leading cultural destination, the Barbican Centre” with “plans to reimagine and upgrade the 40-year-old complex”. To achieve this “a competitive selection process to find a world-class architect-led team to take this project forward will be launched later this year”.
  • Planning & Transportation Committee
    The most recent meeting of the Planning & Transportation Committee was held on Wednesday 12th May 2021. Two key agenda items were discussed: Item 5 ” to formally receive the Petition presented by Mark Bostock to the 15th April 2021 meeting of the Court of Common Council regarding the City of London Corporation’s current planning process” (the petition has been signed by over 1200 people) and Item 6 Daylight and Sunlight Guidance (given that the proliferation of new developments in the vicinity can impact hugely on residential amenity in the form of loss of light). The outcomes are awaited.