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!

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