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17/00077/FULMAJ - Inner Temples Treasury Building, The Terrace, Crown Office Row, London, EC4Y 7HL.

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the CPO in relation to an application for the extension and refurbishment of the Inner Temple Treasury Building to provide a new barristers' Education and Training Centre, primarily at third floor level within adapted library space and a new roof level extension above the Library and the Hall. The CPO informed the committee of late representations including one from Richard Humphries QC, which had been previously circulated. The CPO also advised of corrections to the report at paragraphs 80, 85 and 101 to state that the roof ridge height would be 400mm higher than the current ridge height (not the same, as stated in the report in error).   

 

 

The CPO presented the report including by reference to photographs, drawings and plans shown on screen and advised that the development comprised a new mansard roof extension featuring dormer windows and chimney stacks. Two extensions were proposed on the north elevation to accommodate a new lift shaft and stairs and internal alterations included the insertion of a new ceiling above second floor level within the library.

 

The Committee noted that a total of 77 (plus 8 supplementary) representations had been received across two rounds of consultations. The issues raised included the harm to the library space, the impact of the proposed extension on heritage assets and the Temples Conservation Area, the need for education facilities and the impact on the Inner Temple Garden of potential temporary structures during construction.

 

The CPO advised that the proposals would result in less than substantial harm to the significance of the Temples Conservation Area and the setting and significance of Temple Church. The proposals would result in some harm to the Treasury Building as a non designated heritage asset, however the harm was outweighed by the public benefits of the proposal which comprised the completion of the original design for the building, and the creation of a barrister's' training centre which would reinforce the legal character of the Inner Temple and sustain the building's long-term use.

 

It was considered that the development complied with the NPPF and the

Development Plan as a whole and was appropriate subject to conditions, and a

Section 106/Section 278 Agreement being entered into and complied with.

 

Robert McCracken QC, Desiree AA Artesi and Marcus Binney (of Save Britain’s Heritage) spoke in objection to the application including on the grounds that the harm to the library interior was highly material, amounted to substantial harm and had been under-estimated by the officers, and irreplaceable damage would be caused to the Inner Temple Library which was one of the finest law libraries in the world and one of the Inn’s most precious assets. It was in the great tradition of fine libraries and an example of the important post-war reconstruction period. The library provided comprehensive and up to date research facilities and contributed to the education and training of students and pupils, and the loss of open access shelving would adversely impact legal practise. It would be a loss to future generations and the claimed benefits were highly questionable. 

 

The Chairman advised Mr McCracken that he had received his request for his  ‘reasons for refusal’ to be circulated to Members in advance of the meeting, but advised that should the Committee decide to refuse the application, it would be appropriate for the reasons to be drafted by officers based on the Committee’s views.

 

Members asked the objectors a number of questions in relation to the significance of the loss of shelf space, how often the library was used and whether it was open to Members of the public, alternative options, and the relevance of  the business case .

 

Guy Featherstonhaugh QC and Michael Spencer QC spoke in support of the application which they felt would improve the external appearance of the Treasury Building and enhance its standing within the conservation area. The Inner Temples needed to provide a high quality training and teaching facility to meet the needs of students, pupils and its members so that the primary purpose of providing education and training for the Bar could be maintained.

 

Members asked a number of questions including in relation to the scale of the education provision, the availability of facilities at other Inns, the scope of  proposed Condition 17 in restricting use of Inner Temple Gardens, and the ordinary functioning of the Inn during the construction period, why the option of going underground wasn’t pursued, and why it was essential that training staff were accommodated on site.

 

Debate ensued and several Members spoke in support of the application as they felt the applicants had made a credible case regarding the need for facilities that would address current and future demand for a barrister’s training centre. Some Members felt that some concerns raised by the objectors were ‘operational’ issues and questioned whether they were material planning considerations. The historic role of the Inns and their contribution to sustaining the country’s justice system was also referred to. 

 

Other Members spoke against the proposal, including concerns about the importance of the library as a heritage asset, and the scale of harm to the library which some members felt would be substantial. They also felt that there was no requirement for a tiered lecture room or for training staff to be based on site and the harm was therefore unnecessary. Alternative options were also raised.

 

A Member asked for clarification of Condition 17 which prohibited the use of the Inner Temple Garden as a works compound or for temporary structures during construction. The CPO clarified that is was not intended to prohibit temporary structures unrelated to construction of the library proposals, such as event marquees currently used on a few occasions a year.  The Condition was intended to withdraw permitted development rights for structures in connection with construction works under Part 4A of the GPDO and possible minor clarification had been discussed.  Buildings required for temporary relocation of Treasury Building facilities during the course of the works would require a separate grant of planning permission.

 

Arising from the discussion, the application was put to the vote, the result of which was as follows:

 

14 votes in favour of the CPO recommendation

12 votes against

 

RESOLVED – That Planning permission be granted for the above proposal in accordance with details set out in the proposed schedule, subject to:

 

a)    Planning obligations and other agreements being entered into under

Section 106 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 in respect of those

matters set out in the report, the decision notice not to be issued until the

Section 106 obligations have been executed; and

 

b)    Officers being instructed to negotiate and execute obligations in

respect of those matters set out in "Planning Obligations" under Section 106 and any necessary agreements under Section 278 of the Highway  Act 1980.

 

 

Supporting documents:

 


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