Demolition of existing building and construction of a four-storey building (with basement levels) comprising Office use (Class E) with associated works
(Planning application number: P2021/1692/FUL) In the discussion the following points were made:
· The Planning Officer informed the meeting that since the agenda was published, a further 8 representations were received bringing the number up from 23 to 31, with no new issues raised, as they have been addressed in the report.
· The site is currently built out to a single commercial storey with a pitched roof, was historically used as a vehicle repair workshop and more recently as a temporary photographers and prop store.
· The uses surrounding the site are mixed with both commercial and residential. Commercial use is located at lower level in neighbouring nos. 26, 27 and 29 Bastwick Street and 50 Pear Tree Street and other buildings along Bastwick Street
· Members were advised that the scheme proposes to build a 4 storey building with basement levels and it comprises 1,778sqm office floor space.
· Feedback as a result of consultation has been taken on board which has resulted in revisions such as the lowering of the uppermost storey building by 0.5m from 3m to 2.5m and the partition of the occupation of the office space into five SME sized units which will all be accessed from Bastwick Street.
· Main considerations of the scheme include land use, its design and appearance, neighbouring amenity, transport and highways and energy and sustainability.
· The proposed 4 storey office building complies with the overarching land use policy as it would result in the increase business use of office floor space and the provision of SME’s within the Employment Priority Area and Central Activities Zone in accordance with both Local and London Plans.
· In terms of layout the proposed ground floor level will include the main entrance and the reception lobby to the building, office floor space and the bin store accessed from Bastwick Street
· The SME’s floor space will be located in the entirety of the basement level, with 4 small units measuring between 66 and 77sqm to be accessed via the main entrance and the office space and the floors above would have access to the cycle storage at the lower basement levels.
· The Planning Officer advised that natural light will be achieved through all the units for the SME’s via the light wells and the stepped back light well in the front, which is a similar arrangement of the nearby basement office space in Pear Tree Street.
· Conditions/obligations have been recommended to restrict the use of the building for office use only within Class E and that the SME’s will remain in perpetuity and not be amalgamated.
· In terms of the proposed 4th storey, meeting was advised that this will be set back from the principle elevation so that it would largely not be visible from the other side of Bastwick street and although slightly visible within view of Central street, the uppermost floor of the 4th storey will be zinc clad just like the whole building. Members were advised that specific details for both brick and cladding is to be submitted for approval to planning officers as per condition 3.
· With regard to the east elevation, the meeting was informed that this will be lower to the neighbouring properties on 29 Bastwick Street, and the uppermost storey will be set back from the façade which is considered acceptable and will not cause harm to the wider street scape.
· In addition to the above, the Planning Officer noted that the scheme offers a better design with the street scape due to the screening of the plant and side elevations of adjoining neighbouring buildings of both no 29 and 37 Bastwick Street.
· The scheme is a car free development with no on-site car parking being proposed; drop kerbs will be reinstated on the pavement; cycle storage will be located at the lower basement level of the building with access by way of a lift; 24 long stay cycle storage spaces will be provided whilst zero short stay parking is proposed due to site constraints and as such a contribution in lieu will be secured through a S106 agreement to be used within a wider area.
· Meeting was advised that although schemes of this size will generate daily deliveries and servicing, any form of servicing and delivery for the scheme will mirror other neighbouring properties on Bastwick Street and will not worsen the existing situation.
· In terms of Energy and Sustainability, the Planning Officer noted that the proposed scheme will achieve a 53% reduction in regulated Co2 emissions and a financial contribution of £25,806 has been secured for the remaining co2 emissions; and that the scheme will achieve excellent ‘BREEAM’ rating.
· Furthermore, members were advised that the scheme has been future proofed for potential connection to a District Energy Network, and will be subjected to a green performance plan secured through s106 for measurable targets such as gas and energy usage
· The Planning Officer reiterated as outlined in the report, that the proposal will lead to reductions in daylight and sunlight to windows / rooms and overshadowing to gardens of neighbouring residential properties, however following careful assessment it is considered overall that the scheme is viewed as having a low adverse impact overall, and where there are transgressions, their impact is at the lower end of the spectrum.
· The proposal will provide a number of benefits in particular it will result primarily in an uplift in priority use (office floorspace) within the CAZ and EGA, and is considered to maximise the site.
· A resident living in Pear Tree Street was concerned with the scheme’s mass and its impact on loss of outlook, its sense of enclosure and daylight and sunlight loss. He was also concerned that the committee report does not adequately address the impact of the scheme at the rear with the 10m distance to the neighbouring residents, simply dismissing the impact by describing it as not unduly harmful given its central London location.
· Resident was concerned that the report ignores or fails to mention where set separation distances have been applied for other developments, a key principle that was upheld by the planning inspector when No 44 Pear tree development was considered.
· Resident was concerned with the daylight and sunlight assessment, that members are not being provided with 3 dimensional imaging which shows the true impact of massing but instead officer and applicant had submitted 2 dimensional imaging, questioning how a considered decision could be taken without visualising these alternative images.
· In addition, the objector was concerned that the report erroneously focusses on percentage loss rather than actual figures, questioning the conclusion of the report when it describes the impact as minor because of its central London location. Members were advised that the proposal is not in keeping with its surrounding, requesting that the scheme be rejected so that the main concerns could be addressed
· The Chair informed the meeting that considering the meeting had exceeded its cut off time of 10.30pm, he would use his discretion under Rule 51 to extend the meeting. A member seconded the motion to proceed.
· A resident of 26 Bastwick Street requested that the application be refused, inviting committee members to a site tour to observe the close proximity of the development to both Bastwick street and 44 Pear Tree Street.
· Members were reminded of the 2 daylight/sunlight assessments carried out, the first in 2021 originally included in the application scheduled for 8 Feb 2022 and the later one that was based on an outdated design of 44 Pear Tree Street. Resident was concerned about the inaccuracies from the new survey which states that NSL results are double the BRE guidelines however officer still indicate that this is acceptable as the rooms are dual aspect when it should be applied to single aspect rooms also.
· Resident was concerned with the rooms tested in particular incorrectly stating in the report that it was a kitchen rather than a family kitchen dining area.
· Another neighbouring resident was concerned that the proposed 5 storey office block will harm resident’s amenity due to its overbearing and oppressive nature, that the structure was much taller than the residential surroundings. Resident also queried the assertion by the developers that there will be no loss of light to his home as incorrect as he will be viewing a wall if scheme goes ahead. Meeting was informed that neighbours at 37 Bastwick will have their roof terraces bordered by a south west brick wall which is 2 storeys higher, a fact not acknowledged in the report
· Bastwick Street and Pear Tree Street are both thriving residential neighbourhoods and objectors claimed that filling the gaps between residential dwellings with a large office development will cause major noise pollution, concerns which they said have been disregarded by planning officers, that an amphitheatre was being created between his dwelling to the east, Bastwick Street to the south and Pear Tree Street to the North and with the previously consented scheme of 44 Pear Tree Street, that this would result in a sense of enclosure on all sides.
· Resident had concerns with noises emanating from all these buildings, plant noises from the roof, construction workers and movement of refuse vehicles, all of which have not been sufficiently addressed.
· Resident was concerned about the various omissions in the report, misleading surveys, lack of consultation with neighbouring residents and the new drawings and light surveys that suddenly came to light recently.
· Cllr Graham on behalf of residents, reminded committee that this is a small and residential area, and that with the amount of ongoing works residents have had to put up with, noting that a number of applications which had received consent had not even commenced.
· Cllr Graham invited members to undertake a site visit to Bastwick Street and listen to residents’ concerns instead of taking decisions on drawings and reports which appear to be flawed especially having heard from the objectors of the various inconsistencies in the report, that this is not an application adjoining a main road but in a small street where residents have suffered a lot over a number of years.
· In response, the applicant acknowledged that the proposed 4 storey office building will provide approximately 200 jobs, that the site currently is occupied by a photographic studio employs 5 people covering a space of 500sqm.
· Members were reminded that the temporary use ceases in 2022 and the long-standing use of the site is for a car repair garage which could cause nuisance to neighbouring residents if reinstated.
· Meeting was advised that the Project Team have worked intensely with council officers since 2020, noting that the scheme has undergone numerous revisions in response to feedback received.
· In terms of land use, members were advised that the scheme is policy compliant as it increases use of office floor space and caters for dedicated SME’s floor space through the provision of 4 units totally 281sqm floor space which equates to 19% in terms of net total area, therefore exceeding policy requirements.
· Members were informed that the scheme is of high quality design and will not cause harm to the wider street scape and that in comparison to the existing site and size, the scheme offers a better resolution of the street scape compared to the large single storey industrial type building from the 1950’s.
· Meeting was advised that in terms of height, massing and size of the proposed building, it is keeping with rest of the buildings in Bastwick Street whilst the sufficient separation distance is considered reasonable to both the neighbouring Bastwick and Pear Tree Street properties.
· In terms of sustainability, the planning agent reiterated that the proposal will achieve BREEAM excellent and as the development is located within 60m of the Bunhill Network, it is proposed that the development will connect to this network which to be is welcomed. In addition 90sqm of Photo Voltaic Panel is proposed for the scheme.
· The agent reiterated the benefits of the scheme, an uplift in high quality modern employment business space, provision of sufficient floor space for 200 new jobs, a contribution of £312,000 towards the councils affordable housing provision of site and sustainable transport measures and a car free development, redevelopment and intensification, of an under-utilised brown field site providing high quality office building with an enhanced internal environment for staff in the CAZ where offices should be prioritised.
· The scheme also provides a building capable of multi-let occupation to support local small businesses size firms specifically 4 SME units within the site, totally 19% and importantly the scheme removes the risk of the existing unit reverting back to the car repair business which could cause nuisances to nearby businesses
· The proposal provides a stable office building and responds to its contexts, and conditions have been recommended to mitigate concerns such as daylight and sunlight.
· In response to objectors comments about the recent submitted drawings and plans, meeting was advised that since December following discussions with officers on detailed amendments to the fire strategy to changes to the doors, stair wells and fire mitigation measures, that the changes did not require further consultation.
· In response to concerns from the adjoining residents, the agent informed members that having worked with council officers, revisions have resulted in further reductions and cutback to the scheme, noting that the site is in a central London location and that most uses especially in Bastwick Street is commercial in nature.
· In terms of report accuracy, the daylight and sunlight consultant confirmed to committee that the design of the scheme has been fully assessed and it has been done with or without the future development of 44 Pear Tree Street to assess its cumulative impact
· In terms of pictures provided, the consultant confirmed that it has been accurately assessed, acknowledging that there are isolated shortfalls of BRE guidelines to a number of properties particularly at 45 -56 Pear Tree Street and 37 Bastwick Street and also the garden shortfall at 45 Central Street.
· Members were reminded that although there are isolated shortfalls to a few windows and rooms, it is important to note that mitigation measures have been taken into account in designing the scheme.
· On assessing the cumulative impact of daylight and sunlight loss from the scheme and from other proposed development when built up, the consultant noted that there would be none and the assessment exercise had taken everything into consideration.
· With regard the noise levels from the fixed plant on the roof and delivery and servicing arrangement, meeting was advised that condition 4 addresses this issue
· In response to a question on whether conditions be included to restrict the use of roof terraces, the officers advised that no roof terraces were proposed. Clarified that condition can restrict and mitigate against internal light pollution. Officers advised a restriction to office hours was not considered to be required in this case.
· On whether condition 11 regarding servicing and delivery times could be tightened up as it appears vague, meeting was advised that any arrangements will adhere to existing arrangements and that there is an expectation that it will 1-2 deliveries per day.
· On the question of the possible removal of a top floor to address overshadowing and light pollution concerns, the planning officer acknowledged that for the scheme to be BRE compliant a certain extent of the top floor and the second floor of the front and back of the building will have to be removed.
· During deliberations, the Chair acknowledged that most of the noise and light concerns could be addressed with conditions and that in general the area is both mixed commercial and residential use. He also noted that with regard to the overall massing concerns of the building, that it is no different from other buildings in the area, however the area is congested in the immediate vicinity and that the main issue is whether the daylight and sunlight assessment is sufficient.
· A member acknowledged residents’ concerns about the disruption to their lives with the amount of ongoing works, but felt that similar to the 44 Pear Tree Street development when the same questions were asked if the developer had done enough to mitigate the daylight and sunlight loss, that in this instance he is minded to agree that the site massing has been reviewed as far as it can and policy compliant.
· A member indicated that having considered the diagrams and noted officers explanation on the possibility of removing a floor to make the building BRE compliant, a motion was moved for the item to be deferred.
Councillor Khondoker proposed a motion to defer this item. This was seconded by Councillor Poyser and carried.
That consideration of the application be deferred for the reasons outlined above.