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Agenda item

New River Head, Land Rear of 28 Amwell Street, Amwell Street, London, EC1R 1XU


Change of use and conversion of Grade II listed buildings known as the Engine House, Boiler House, Coal Store and Windmill Base from Class E (Commercial, Business and Service) to Class F1 (Learning and Non-Residential Institution) for gallery, exhibition and education use with ancillary shop, cafe and office uses. Occasional use as an events venue for private hire. Partial demolition of North Stores and single and two storey extension in two locations at eastern and western end. Construction of foyer link between North Stores and main buildings. Provision of cohesive landscaping scheme and associated public realm enhancements and creation of permissive pedestrian route through the Site. Reconfiguration of new vehicular and pedestrian access into the site from Amwell Street. Pedestrian and servicing access to the Site will be provided from Myddelton Passage. (Listed building consent also submitted ref: P2021/1553/LBC).

(Planning application number:P2021/1545/FUL&P2021/1553/LBC)

Cllr Khurana leaves prior to the consideration of this item and was not involved in the deliberations at all.


In the discussion the following points were made:

·         Site is within the New River Conservation Area and contains various Grade ll listed buildings and that the proposal includes development to various buildings across the site, the North Store is being extended to the west and a secondary storey introduced to the east. In addition, the meeting was advised that a linking foyer building is to be introduced in the Northern courtyard area between two existing buildings House as well as a new stair and lift. Also a café and raised terrace is proposed to the south of the site that requires various openings in the listed buildings and the scheme proposes a new pedestrian pathway that links Amwell Street with Myddelton Passage that requires an alteration to site levels to achieve appropriate levels of access.

·         Meeting was advised that in land use terms, the proposed change of use of the site to an art gallery Use Class F1, to be occupied by the House of Illustration is policy compliant , that it includes ancillary office accommodation, and cafe use.

·         Members were advised that occasional private hire events will be controlled by an Operational Management Plan.

·         Meeting was advised that the site is addressed by the New River Head and Claremont Square Planning Brief (2013) which outlines various long held aspirations for the site and that the application is considered to be able to meet these requirements to varying degrees. In addition a heritage interpretation strategy forms part of the application and this includes information boards across the site and installations in the Boiler House Cafe with QR codes providing access to further detailed information and history relevant to the site. The windmill base will also provide a permanent heritage interpretation space.

·         There is a desire for public access and to operate between 9.30am to 5.30pm, Tuesday to Sunday with potential for extending the hours of operation via S106 agreement.

·         On the harm to heritage assets, the planning officer advised that as it includes a Grade 11 listed building with all the interventions such as the new use, new floor being installed at second floor level, the installation of lift access and the windows being covered by a screen to hang the art on the wall.

·         Inclusive design has been incorporated across the site and there will be level access provided and that some of the floor cobbles will be reset of various types to enable access.

·         In terms of energy and sustainability, heat source pump will be used and green roof will be provided on the education studio and further green roof will be in the heat air source pump, there will be carbon off setting contribution of £11,040 and green performance plan for the site.

·         The Planning Officer advised that 3 Disabled Parking bays will be provided to the west of the site with 46 visitor cycle parking spaces of which 4 will be for staff  and there will be an independent access arrangements to Thames Water Facility from the south.

·         The Planning Officer advised that less than substantial harm has been identified to the significance of the listed buildings (including their setting) as well as the wider conservation area due to the interventions required to enable the use of the site for F1 purposes, however, careful consideration has been given to the relative importance of the heritage asset and this has been weighed against the heritage benefits and public benefit delivered by the proposals.

·         Members were advised that the harm identified is considered to be outweighed by the heritage and public benefit that would be delivered.

·         The use of the site as an art gallery is the optimum viable use of the statutorily listed buildings, which is significant heritage benefit for these listed buildings that have been vacant for over 30 years and is given significant weight in the overall planning balance. 

·         Members were reminded that the site has a complicated history of both refused and approved schemes with no viable scheme being implemented.

·         That the proposal with the new cultural use will bring further socio economic. Benefits to the borough and beyond all those captured in S106.

·         Members were reminded that this was a combined report seeking full planning permission and listed building consent, however the conditions with the permission are separately noted in the report.

·         A neighbouring resident had concerns with the proposal especially as her bedroom shares a party wall with the North Stores. She discounted the claim in the committee report that stated that on average houses in the mews were 12.6m away from the site when her back wall is 9m.

·         In addition the objector requested that considering she works occasionally from she requested a condition that electronic blinds be installed so as to ensure there is no light spillage from the foyer which is 9m from the back of her house throwing up a lot of light into the sitting room. The resident also requested a condition which will ensure that future occupiers do not remove the covering over the windows which is presently used to hang art during exhibitions as it protects any overlooking.

·         Another concern raised was the noise levels when events are carried out and requested that the projected 24 events be reduced to 20 and possibly scheduling 2 events a month as it will impact her amenity and others, that  a condition should be attached restricting construction activities on Saturdays considering she works from home. 

·         Another local resident was concerned with the close proximity of his house to the 2 storey building, that allowing a commercial building so close to his property should be given due consideration. The resident had concerns with both the loss of light and privacy to his building, that his dwelling will be overshadowed suggesting that the developer could have a 4-5m set back on the top floor of the building to address these concerns. Resident also had concerns with the positioning of the proposed disabled toilet especially as it will be about 4-5 feet away from the common wall and had concerns with having to hear toilet sounds and users regularly opening and closing the toilet door.

·         The applicant informed the meeting that via Illustration use of the site and its activities will bring substantial benefits to the borough as it will bring curriculum to life, an opportunity to provide a voice to the marginalised people in the community.

·         Members were reminded that in balancing the public benefits and the heritage harm, that opening up the building and giving local access was significant, that it is a scheme that has gone through a long period of consultation and planning with both residents and Islington officers.

·         The proposal is not a commercial development, that the proposal has looked very closely at the optimum configuration of the site and the whole of the North stores has sound insulation in it.

·         Members were informed that options in terms of the light from the foyer and noise have been looked into and that any construction team will have signed up to the Considerate Construction Scheme which respectively responds to noise concerns of neighbouring residents.

·         On the issue of events held previously and associated noise levels, meeting was advised that House of Illustration is not aware of drinks reception taking place outdoors instead of indoor as most activities will be indoors. 

·         With regard to light spillage concerns from the gallery, the architect advised that blinds could be installed to roof lights and to the glazing which will be linked to the light switching so as to ensure minimal light spillage.

·         On the potential construction disturbance meeting noises, meeting was advised that the work carried out on the section of the single building North Store, which is being retained is to be done to repair its roof structure and it will involve erecting hoardings to protect nos 1 and 2 and adjoining houses in the mews from the works , that a screening will be used to mitigate noise concerns.

·         On the issue of limiting the number of events held, meeting was advised that events are essential to facilitate funding activities

·         During deliberations, Members agreed that construction activities should not be carried out on Saturdays and that conditions should be amended to ensure that future occupiers of site do not remove the covering over the window which presently protects any overlooking 

·         In response the planning officer acknowledged that the above concerns can be addressed by amending the relevant conditions

·         With regard to concerns about the location of the disabled toilet and it’s close proximity to a residents wall, the Architect reassured the meeting that it will have no impact on their amenity as there is a 9 inch brick wall of the side of the building and another lining wall in between and that the cavity will be acoustically insulated  and that all pipe work will be surrounded so will not be an issue. The Planning Officer acknowledged that no objections were received from the Council’s Environmental officer on this issue as it is a solid wall.

·         Members commended the proposal and agreed that this would be of benefit to the community.

·         The Chair acknowledged that a lot of work had been carried out by all parties to the scheme, noting that most of the objectors concerns could be addressed via the Construction and Management Plan and that issues relating to daylight and sunlight and noise concerns would have to be agreed by planning officers before works is allowed to commence, requesting that construction activities on Saturday be removed from the Construction Management Plan.

·         Members were reminded that both planning permission and listed building consent were being considered.


Councillor Poyser proposed a motion to grant planning permission and listed building consent be granted. This was seconded by Councillor Klute and carried.




That following consideration of the case officer’s report (the assessment and recommendations therein), the presentation to Committee, submitted representations and objections provided verbally at this meeting, planning permission and listed building consent be granted subject to the conditions and informatives set out in Appendix 1 of the officer report and subject to the prior completion of a Deed of Planning Obligation made under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 securing the heads of terms as set out in Appendix 1 of the officer report.



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