Tenter House – application for revised development proposal

The application for the revised Tenter House development for the “Demolition of the Class E unit (and related structures), ground and basement floor slab, car park and access ramp of Tenter House together with the demolition of part of the City Point Plaza floor slab and New Union Street, to provide a new part 14-storey and part 22-storey [+99.9m AOD] office building [34,880sq.m GIA], with two ground floor retail units, community floorspace at first floor level, new level plaza (open space), and a reconstructed New Union Street, together with cycle parking, waste storage, servicing, landscaping, plant, and other associated works [Total 39,490 sq.m GEA]”  has now been submitted.

 However please note that: “Demolition of the existing 11 storey building (except for the Class E Unit and its related structures) will take place pursuant to planning permission reference 17/01050/FULMAJ (the Proposed Development)”.

The planning reference number is: 24/00209/FULMAJ and the accompanying documents can be viewed here

Overview of proposals

The Planning Statement provides a detailed overview of the proposals.

Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the Design & Access Statements also provide good pictorial depictions of the development.  

The building will comprise lower ground, ground, and 20 further levels of office accommodation, albeit that the height will be staggered along its length between 22 and 14 floors. The building will be accessed via City Point Plaza, and the loading bay will be located along New Union Street. A deli/ cafe is provided at ground level with access from City Point Plaza, and a restaurant is provided at the corner of Moorfields and New Union Street. The existing car park ramp to the north of the site will be removed along with the raised ground level to provide an enhanced pedestrian route across City Point Plaza, to the north of the Site.

In terms of height, the current Tenter House is 11-storeys high – the proposed development will be part-14, part-22 storeys, totalling a maximum height of 85.8m (99.9m AOD). This means that it will be considered and assessed as a tall building in accordance with the City of London’s definition. The previously consented scheme in 2020 was for an 18-storey building on the site giving a height of 87.9m AOD – hence this new application is 12m taller at its highest point.  However, as already described, this application includes a greater variation in volume, height and massing across the building. In terms of floorspace, the development will provide 34,880sqm of office floorspace – some 8,477sqm more than the previously consented scheme of 26,403sqm

Demolition of the site already approved

As already commented, it should be noted that the site benefits from an extant planning permission dated 29 September 2020 (planning reference 17/0150/FULMAJ). The 2020 permission granted consent for the ‘Demolition of existing building and structures to existing basement slab level and construction of an 18-storey office building …… with associated servicing, waste storage, plant facilities and cycle parking and public realm improvements to New Union Street’

Demolition of the existing building in accordance with this existing permission has already commenced and is anticipated to take c6 months to complete. As such, by the time this new planning application is to be determined the building is likely to have been substantially demolished.

We would just point out that new planning applications are encouraged to consider the carbon implications of their proposals to make sure the most climate-friendly option is built. As the existing Tenter House building is being demolished under an old planning consent, however, the current applicants can claim that there is very little embedded carbon to consider in this new scheme, thereby somewhat disingenuously side-stepping the City’s “retrofit first” policy.

Impact of massing

The documents claim that ‘Like the Permitted 2020 Scheme, the western end of the Proposed Development steps down in relation to the adjacent mass of the new building at 21 Moorfields on Moor Lane. The overall height and scale of the Proposed Development is consequently broadly the same as the Permitted 2020 Scheme. The massing of the Proposed Development differs from the Permitted 2020 Scheme in its composition, which has been simplified from a series of five, all-glass volumes to three main volumes: one central volume, clearly addressing City Point Plaza to the north and smaller, lower volumes set either side that relate to the frontages of the adjacent streetscapes on Moorfields and Moor Lane’.

It goes on ‘The building which forms part of the Proposed Development is articulated as four volumes that step down to the east and west, reducing the impact of the massing along Moorfields and in relation to the Barbican, and relating to the new development at 21 Moorfields to the south of the Site. The central element is taller, retaining the vertical emphasis of the Permitted 2020 Scheme and providing a clear address at Citypoint Plaza. ….. The existing route of New Union Street to the south, which presently is primarily used for servicing, will be pedestrianised….. At the upper levels, the proposed terrace and balconies will add greenery and interest to local views…’

Roof terrace and balconies

The plans show that there are over 2000sq m of balconies and terraces on the proposed building – 60sq m on levels 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 69sq m on level 12. The ‘design concept’ of the large roof terrace on level 14 ‘visualises a woodland in the sky’.  It appears that the smaller section of the 14th floor terrace that faces west leads off from the proposed café. The other terraces seem to be at the corners of the building. As has been the case in all of the previous development applications submitted in the vicinity in the area, it seems reasonable to request the setting of conditions as to the use and timing of terraces in order to preserve the amenity of the many neighbouring residential properties.

Daylight and Sunlight analysis

Volume 1 of the Daylight and Sunlight Analysis seems to be the most helpful of the 4 volumes submitted on the subject although those in the residential blocks closest to the site may also want to look through the individual window analyses in the other volumes to see what, if any, impact the proposed building will have.

The documents make reference to the proximity of Willoughby House to the site – but claim to have “satisfactorily addressed” any negative impact of the proposed development. They claim that ‘Whilst the Proposed Development will give rise to some minor reduction in daylight and sunlight to Willoughby House these reductions are considered to be so minor as to be unnoticeable particularly as the reductions identified are principally the result the presence of very deep overhanging projections above the windows in Willougby House itself’.

We have heard this explanation before Ie “it’s the balconies what done it” as the documents go on: ‘It is therefore clear that it is the architectural features of Willoughby House itself that are the principal factor in the relative loss of light as opposed to there being any overdevelopment……..The windows would experience no more than a 13% reduction which clearly illustrates that it is the presence of the balcony, rather than the bulk and mass of the proposed scheme, that is the principal factor for the relative loss of light. Subsequently, the VSC transgressions are solely a consequence of the overhanging projections.

Residents may well have a different view however as “No more than a 13% reduction” still sounds quite a significant loss.

Access, entry and servicing routes

The Delivery and Service Plan shows all vehicles from any direction accessing New Union Street from Moor Lane and leaving the site onto Moorfields. Those from the south come in from Fore Street, those from the east along Silk Street and those from the west along Ropemaker.  

Given that some 88 deliveries are expected to the site – added to the 100+ deliveries to City Point – and it is clear that Moor Lane is unlikely to be the quiet, greened street that has long been promised. Perhaps it would be better for the access route to the service yard to be from Moorfields rather than Moor Lane given the proximity of the proposed service routes to many residential premises.   

It also appears that the servicing yard will be too small for lorries to turn round in which means that they will either have to reverse out onto New Union Street or reverse into the yard. A suggestion may be therefore to enlarge the service yard to prevent this.

Standard Consultation Expiry date

The Standard Consultation Expiry date to make representations is 7th May 2024. These can be made here.

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