Planning update – 17th March 2022

Application to convert Cromwell Tower podium void to residential unit

A strong sense of déjà vu can be felt as another application for the conversion of the podium level void space at Cromwell Tower has been submitted given that the time limit for previous approvals has lapsed. The current planning reference number is 22/00177/FULL and asks for permission to convert the podium level void space of Cromwell Tower “to a single residential dwelling unit..….with associated internal alterations, replacement of external glazing and alterations to the Silk Street and Podium level elevations”.

The application can be viewed on the City of London website here and the full details of what is being proposed are in the Heritage Design and Access Statement which can be seen here. The gross internal floor area of the proposed unit is expected to be 244sqm, with 5 rooms and 2 bedrooms, with building work expected to commence in Autumn 2022.  

The documents confirm that full planning permission and Listed Building Consent were granted to the previous applications made in 2016 and 2018 and that this current submission is unchanged from those originally submitted “except for updates to the text in this document which have only been made where information was out of date….”

Although planning approvals have been granted for previous applications, residents should view the documents and make their feelings known on the matter if they feel otherwise. The Standard Consultation expiry date is the 4th April 2022 and any comments can be made to the City of London Planning Dept here

150 Aldersgate Street

The latest communication from Erith has indicated that the projected completion for the current scope of works on this site is 22nd April. However, we have been warned that this is subject to change (ie. delay) as further activities are being developed but as these will be mainly located to the basement and rear courtyard areas, they will hopefully not cause even more disturbance to residents.

Amazon Last Mile Logistics Hub

The minutes of the last Planning & Transportation Committee meeting indicated that the application to establish an Amazon last mile logistics hub in London Wall Car Park is due to be considered at the next Committee meeting scheduled for 26th April 2022.

Finsbury Circus Gardens “transformation” approved

Although not strictly related to planning issues relating to Barbican Estate, it may be of interest to read the recent City of London press release regarding one of our largest local green spaces. This reported that plans to turn Finsbury Circus Gardens into a “haven for people and wildlife” have been given the green light. The historic garden used to be part of London’s first public park, Moor Fields, which dates back to 1607. It is now an oval-shaped garden that was first laid out in 1815 and is reported to be home to a Japanese Pagoda tree – the only one in the City.

The designs include an ‘urban forest’ in the west of the park, skirted by a new oval-shaped pathway, whilst a new 100-capacity pavilion café, nestling in a ‘secret garden’, will boast an open frontage and terrace overlooking a lawn. The park’s Grade II-listed drinking fountain, dating back to 1902, will be retained.

The full press release can be viewed here

Planning Update – 18th February 2022

Fortunately there is little new in the way of planning applications to report but given that the Estate is already surrounded and suffering from developments (from North to South – e.g 1 Golden Lane, Tenter House, 21 Moorfields, City Place House, Wood Street Police Station, 150 Aldersgate) this comes as some relief. Relief will not be a sentiment shared by many (or any) of us though when the 1-12 Long Lane and, most particularly, the London Wall West projects commence.

So moving swiftly on, here are a few updates on the developments going on around us:

Museum of London to close in December

I am sure most residents will be aware of this by now but it has been announced that the Museum of London’s main site at London Wall is to close in December 2022 in preparation for its relocation to West Smithfield. From June 2022, it is planning to hold a series of events, activities and displays celebrating its 45 years at the site.

The new building, to be called The London Museum, is due to open in 2026.

The full press release together with links showing the location and plans for the new site can be seen here

City Place House/2 Aldermanbury – Highwalk closure details

A meeting with the BA and interested residents was held recently with the representatives of the developers of City Place House/2 Aldermanbury to hear the plans for the timings and closure of the bridge and walkways over London Wall as well as get a general update. A copy of the slides can be seen here

The original plan was to close the bridge and the Highwalk to the public once the site had been handed over to commence demolition works at the end of January 2022. Access through the new building would be made available back to the public two months prior to the project completion at the end of October 2025.

The revised schedule shows that full closure is now expected to commence some 5 months later than planned in June 2022 and re-open from June 2025, some 2 months earlier than planned. The closure is therefore now expected to last for 37 rather than 44 months. Only time will tell of course if this proves to be the case.

1 Golden Lane – exhibition boards from public presentation now available

The picture boards from the public exhibition regarding the proposed expansion and refurbishment of 1 Golden Lane are now available for view on the 1GoldenLane website.

The link to view the exhibition boards can be found here

Wood Street Police Station – ‘minor’ changes mean a new planning application is in pipeline

You may recall that Magnificent Hotel Investments Ltd secured planning consent in 2021 for the refurbishment and conversion of Wood Street Police Station into a high quality hotel. Since that time the developers have been working to find a suitable hotel brand to take on and operate the new hotel. Whilst there is reported to be ‘strong commercial interest’ in the site, the ‘feedback from potential operators has made clear that some modest changes are needed for them to be able to operate the building successfully’.

Whilst the changes proposed appear to be relatively minor, it has been agreed with the City Planning officers that a new planning application would be appropriate.

In terms of an overview of the proposed revisions, the plan is now ‘to increase the total rooms from 213 to 235’, achieved ‘by reorganising space …. Specifically, the proposed spa and leisure uses have been removed save for a gym, and the basement restaurant and kitchen have been relocated to ground level to improve footfall and accessibility. Additionally, the consented two-storey addition from the west side is no longer required and we are relocating various plant equipment from the roofs to the inside of the building … we are proposing to make the atrium seating areas larger and more accessible by removing a proposed feature stair to Rolfe Hall and installing decking over the courtyard in part with structural, translucent glazing to bring light in to the basement guest rooms below…’.

Ahead of actually seeing the proposed revisions, these changes do appear minor and it does not look like there are any grounds for objection. However, this stance may change once we have seen the revised planning application.

Planning & Licensing update 24th January 2022

1 Golden Lane – rescheduled public exhibition…..

We have been made aware that the rescheduled public exhibition for the 1 Golden Lane proposed refurbishment/expansion is to be held tomorrow, Tuesday 25th January 2022, 3:30pm-7:30pm. 

The event will take place at Jewin Welsh Church, 70 Fann Street, EC1Y 0SA. Further information of the proposals will be available during the exhibition, and members of the Project Team will be on-hand to answer questions.

The 1 Golden Lane website can be viewed here

….and offers redistribution of unwanted items from the strip out phase

The developers of 1 Golden Lane, Castleforge, have partnered with Globechain for the strip out phase of the building “to ensure a more sustainable approach to the project”. Castleforge is therefore looking for any charities or community organisations within the local area that may benefit from recycled material from the site.  

Globechain connect landlords to non-profits, businesses and people to redistribute unneeded items. Its online marketplace will allow Castleforge to upload unwanted items from the 1 Golden Lane strip out to its interactive website. These items can then be offered at no cost to charities and organisations in need. These can, for example, help to refurbish community centres or provide an opportunity for young people to learn to upcycle. 

If anyone knows of any organisations that would be interested in receiving items from the 1 Golden Lane strip out, including carpets tiles, ceiling tiles, hand dryers, doors, kitchen units or light fittings then please get in touch with Stephen Gregory, Account Executive at Concilio Communications. Email: sgregory@conciliocomms.com

Barbie Green licensing variation application hearing and decision

The hearing to decide the licence variation application from Barbie Green was held last Wednesday 12th January. It may be recalled that Barbie Green applied for a variation of its licence to extend the hours for the sale of alcohol on its premises from the current 11.00am to 10.30pm Monday to Sunday to 9.00am to 10.30pm Monday to Saturday. The application form implied that it was also applying to extend its off sales licence by two hours on weekdays and to include weekends (no off sales are currently allowed at weekends). Many objections were lodged and personal representations were made by several objectors at the hearing.

Whilst the proposed increase to the hours when alcohol could be sold on the premises was certainly not welcomed, the main thrust of the objections was against the seeming proposal to extend the off sales licence. The word “seeming” has been used as it transpired that the applicant had not filled in the form correctly and it was not applying to extend its off sales licence at all. It was therefore confirmed at the start of the hearing that the only variation being sought was to bring forward the sale of alcohol on the premises from 9am (from 11am) and that no changes were being sought in respect of off sales.

The hearing considered that, given the size of the premises, the variation was unlikely to attract a large number of additional brunch clients and the sub-committee “sought to strike a balance for residents and the business”. It therefore decided to grant a variation of the licence and extend the licensing hours to 9am on Monday to Saturday and to 10am on Sundays.

Any party dissatisfied with this decision has the right to appeal within 21 days of the date of the notification of the decision (i.e. from 17th January).

Barbican Centre – five teams shortlisted for major revamp project

The City of London Corporation has shortlisted five collaborative teams to compete for the major revamp of the Barbican Centre. The Corporation invited ‘multidisciplinary teams ‘who have the skills, experience and ambition to compete for the high-profile commission to transform the Brutalist arts centre ‘to meet the needs of 21st-century artists, audiences and communities’.

The finalists are:

–        Adjaye Associates, Benedetti Architects and PUP Architects

–        Allies and Morrison and Asif Khan Studio

–        Bjarke Ingels Group, Avanti Architects and POoR Collective

–        Diller Scofido + Renfro, McCloy + Muchemwa, and Purcell

–        Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Bureau de Change, Schulze+Grassoy, and Thinc

The full article can be read here

City of London announces a 70% increase in office development approvals in 2021  

The City of London Corporation has recently issued a press release announcing a 70% increase in office development approvals in 2021.

It highlights the fact that “In 2021, its Planning and Transportation Committee resolved to approve a total of 4,360,944 sq.ft of new office floorspace. This compares with 2,582,348 sq.ft in 2020 – an increase of almost 70% year on year. The developments to have been approved this year include  55 Gracechurch Street70 Gracechurch Street2-3 Finsbury AvenueCity Place House100-108 Fetter Lane120 Fleet Street115-123 Houndsditch and 14-21 Holborn Viaduct”.

The release goes on to say that a substantial number of office developments remain in the planning pipeline which are expected to go to the Planning and Transportation Committee for decision in 2022. You have been warned!

The full press release can be read here

Re-consultation for Amazon Logistics Hub – 16th December 2021

Re-consultation – conversion of part of London Wall car park to an Amazon Last Mile Logistics Hub

You may recall that this application (ref: 21/00419/FULL) 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) first appeared in August. The BA, along with a number of residents, objected to this scheme due to the loss of residential amenity, noise, increased traffic flows, inappropriate location abutting a Grade II and Grade II* listed residential estate and gardens, and concerns over public safety”.

Having read through the documents provided in this re-consultation, we see no reason to change our objection to the application. The amendments to the scheme indicate that the Applicant is proposing to undertake groundworks to re-grade the access ramp and lay-by (which is to be used as the drop-off point for the Amazon lorries). This area is within the boundary of the Scheduled Monument (ie. the remains of the London Wall) at the site’s north western corner and Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC) is being sought for these works.

We would point out however that this is against Planning Policy DM.12.1 which requires “heritage assets, their settings and significance” to be sustained and enhanced – not damaged or their access restricted by the regrading of the nearby dropping-off point. Historic assets are surely more important than Amazon delivery trucks!

We would also reiterate our view that this is a totally inappropriate location. The access road to the car park entrance is narrow and one way, with a virtual blind bend half way down. What happens when the drop-off point is already in use by other vehicles? What about the danger to pedestrians trying to access the London Wall remains and the gardens?

We are also puzzled in the extreme as to why this application has got as far as it has given the City of London’s emerging plans for the site at London Wall West which will render this proposal completely inoperable.

Whilst we have no objection to the concept of the change of use of car parking spaces to a last mile delivery hub per se, we believe that this location is totally unsuitable and would urge the applicant and the City planning officers to seek a more appropriate site. Anyone wishing to comment on this application can do so here

The closing date for comments is 3rd January 2022

1 Golden Lane consultation – 9th December 2021

Consultation re 1 Golden Lane

A consultation website has recently been launched regarding the refurbishment of 1 Golden Lane which contains more information about the proposals for the site and a survey for interested parties to provide their feedback.

The website is available at the following link:

www.1goldenlane.co.uk


An in-person drop in consultation event was planned to be held at Capel Cymraeg Jewin, 70 Fann Street on Tuesday 14th December from 3pm, where the project team was to be on hand to talk through the proposals and answer any questions.

However, due to the latest coronavirus-related guidance, the decision has been taken to cancel the in-person exhibition. This will be replaced by a webinar, which will take place from 6-7pm on Tuesday 14th December. This webinar will also give interested residents the chance to hear about the proposals from the project team and ask any questions. To register for the webinar please press here

The consultation will be live until Friday 7th January 2022.

London Wall West Consultation – 9th December 2021

Consultation re London Wall West

You will probably have already received information about the future of London Wall West. This is a number of inter-linked buildings that sit at the heart of the Culture Mile. It is the current home of the Museum of London, which will be moving to Smithfield Market, and Bastion House, an office building at the western end of London Wall. You will recall that this was originally the proposed site for a new Centre for Music, an idea that was scrapped in February 2021 and the decision taken to update the Barbican Centre instead.

Hence the City of London Corporation is looking to redevelop the site to, as it states, “help achieve some of our most challenging and exciting aspirations for the future of the Square Mile”. (Others may merely see it as a scheme to fund the relocation of the Museum of London of course).

The City of London information flyer goes on to say that “Over the past six months, we have been exploring what is possible at London Wall West. We are now launching our public consultation on the early proposals. This is your opportunity to have a significant say in shaping what will be one of the most exciting projects in this part of the capital”.

Two public exhibitions have been held showing these preliminary proposals which incorporate three new buildings – Building 1, a replacement for Bastion House at a similar 17 storeys high but with a significantly increased (at least 3x) footprint, Building 2 – a new building of 14 storeys but with similar mass to that of Building 1 located (roughly) on the current Museum of London roundabout and Building 3 – of “just” 5 storeys located by the Thomas More ramp. There are also, according to the City of London, improved Public Realm, community and cultural spaces.

These proposals will have profound implications for local residents, particularly those in the vicinity of the redevelopment site.  

We urge residents to visit the website, participate in the consultation process and make their voices heard. The site is https://londonwallwest.co.uk which can be accessed here      

Licensing update – 2nd December 2021

Barbie Green – applies again for licence variation

For those who may not be aware, Barbie Green (2 London Wall Place) has recently submitted an application for a variation of its licence “to permit the sale of alcohol on and off the premises 9.00am – 10.30pm Monday – Sunday”.

Background

By way of background, it may be recalled that Barbie Green applied for a similar variation in June 2020 which was “to add off-sales between the hours of 11.00am and 20.00pm Monday to Sunday”. There were many letters of objection submitted both by local residents and the Barbican Association on the grounds of the Prevention of Public Nuisance, in particular:

– concerns over noise disturbance in a predominantly residential area, particularly at night and at weekends, given that the premises are within line-of-sight of many Barbican flats, particularly Andrewes and Willoughby Houses

– concerns that off-sales would encourage groups of people to drink in an area of historic value and the associated fears of damage

– concerns over security and policing

– concerns over hygiene and lack of toilet facilities

6 residents made personal representations at the Licensing Committee meeting of 12th August 2020 when this application was debated, urging the Committee to “amend the timings within the initial application to reflect the fact that this is a heavy residential area with people who work from home and children who need to get to sleep on school nights and also to fall in line with the opening hours at their other premises”.  

The Committee retired to discuss the application and concluded “The Sub Committee sought to strike a balance for residents and the business, and it was the Sub Committee’s decision to grant the variation of the premises licence to permit off-sales between the hours of 11:00 and 18:00 Monday to Friday only with no off-sales at the weekend”.

The full text of the meeting can be viewed here

Current application seeking even more extended hours

The current application asks for even more extended hours than those applied for and rejected in June 2020. The June 2020 application sought to add off-sales between the hours of 11am to 8pm Monday to Sunday. As we have already advised, the current application seeks to “permit the sale of alcohol on and off the premises 9am to 10.30pm Monday to Sunday”.

Yet conditions have not changed and all of the arguments/objections presented to the Committee last year remain valid. We would therefore urge residents to once again object to this application for all of the reasons expressed above. We see no absolutely no reason for extending the hours of operation, especially not for seven days a week, and we urge the Licensing Committee to stand by its original decision.

How to make an objection

The last date for objections is 14th December 2021 and anyone wishing to oppose the application must give notice in writing to the Town Clerk, City of London, Guildhall, London EC2P 2EJ specifying the grounds of opposition.

The full application from Barbie Green can be viewed here

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!