Report of the Chief Planning Officer and Development Director.
The Committee considered a report of the Chief Planning Officer and Development Director regarding 15 Minories, 57-60 & 62 Aldgate High Street And 1 Little Somerset Street London EC3 – specifically, Demolition of existing structures, and erection of a mixed use office building, including ground floor flexible retail/cafe/commercial uses (Class E) and a public house (sui generis) (35,672 sqm GEA).
As a point of order, a Member commented that the application included properties located in the ward of Portsoken. However, the officer’s report and online search function listed the application as being located in the ward of Tower only. The Committee noted that this had been corrected in the separately circulated addendum, but that it would not have appeared in an online search for applications in the ward of Portsoken. The Committee was advised that officers were seeking to address this discrepancy.
The Chief Planning Officer and Development Director drew the Committee’s attention to the tabled addenda, before the Town Clerk outlined the Committee’s usual procedure for the consideration of planning applications.
The Chief Planning Officer and Development Director then introduced the application to Members and presented the officer’s report, informing the Committee about the details of the scheme and its wider implications and outlining the reasons for the officer’s recommendation. The officer’s recommendation was that the Committee resolve to grant planning permission, in accordance with the details set out in the attached schedule.
In the absence of any registered objectors, Jan Donovan, on behalf of Rolfe Judd Planning, addressed the Committee in support of the recommendations. The Committee was advised that the conditions and obligations recommended by officers were supported by the applicant, and that the owners of 56-58 Aldgate High Street were in discussions with the applicant regarding a suitable deed in respect of land ownerships to ensure that future developments could take place, given the proximity of the east elevation.
Tom Appleton, on behalf of Rocket Properties, then addressed the Committee in support of the application. The Committee noted that the application was an amendment to a previously consented scheme, with the proposed building largely similar to that approved in 2020. However, the scheme would now be net zero-carbon, with other key benefits including the provision of office space, an accessible terrace, increased greening, and more public realm.
Friedrich Ludewig, on behalf of the applicant, then addressed the Committee in support of the application. The application was sympathetic to the historical site, and Planning officers had been clear about their requirements for the site and application. The scheme would provide an improved building and better public pace, with interesting infrastructure, closing the urban gap between the City of London and Whitechapel. Since the 2020 consent, the opportunity had been taken to improve the ground floor, and to make the building more sustainable. The scheme would make a positive contribution to the City of London, being of a high standard. The applicant had worked with partners on options for incorporating the Still & Star public house into the new site and was committed to delivering a solution, with the support of CAMRA.
The Chair then invited questions from Members. In response to a point of order raised by a Member, the Town Clerk confirmed that training sessions, in accordance with the Planning Protocol, had been scheduled for Members on the Friday and Monday preceding the meeting, following the appointment of the Committee by the Court of Common Council.
In response to questions from Members, those making representations in support of the application outlined how the revised scheme had achieved net zero carbon, and how this would be evidenced going forward. The Committee was also given further detail on the basement and plans for servicing as part of the scheme, and measures to minimise light pollution as part of the scheme. The Committee was also advised that following consultation, London Underground and TfL had advised that they no longer felt a new entrance to Aldgate Station was required, and therefore this was no longer a part of the overall scheme. In response to a question from a Member, the applicant advised that the Still & Star public house, whilst part of the heritage of the area, did not retain any original interior features.
The applicant then gave the Committee further detail as to the differences in proportions of carbon emissions and carbon offsetting between the existing consented scheme, and the proposals under consideration, as well as the cost of attaining net zero carbon for the development. In response to a question from a Member, the applicant also explained that the proposals retained the cap on deliveries from the previously consented scheme.
A Member queried whether recommendations d and e, in respect of the implications for planning permission with regards to related schemes, could be amended to make them clearer. Officers responded that these recommendations could be amended, with recommendation d being split into two parts to clarify that they referred to two separate works, and that recommendation e could be amended to confirm the intention to consent to related schemes before the proposals under consideration could begin. The Chair then sought the Committee’s approval of these amendments, which was agreed.
In response to a question from Members, the Chief Planning Officer and Development Director confirmed that further efforts to improve carbon emissions and savings would be addressed during the detailed design stage, and advised that it was intended that the wording used in condition 36 relating to lighting strategy would be come standard.
The Committee then proceeded to debate the application. The Chair, opening the debate, advised that he supported the application, adding that he felt officers had done a thorough job, and that the scheme represented progress in the area, which would benefit from the improvement and revitalisation.
A Member commented that the developer had displayed a good attitude towards local residents, holding monthly meetings about the site and providing newsletters. The applicant had made efforts to take residents with them and it was hoped this would continue. The Member added that he had not experienced significant objections or interest in the scheme from local residents, having sought comments. The Member added that he had not experienced issues with the servicing bay for the site, having lived nearby.
A Member commented that the scheme was complicated, and requested that officers make every effort to use plain language throughout application reports, and also to make more explicit the differences between the proposals under consideration and previously consented schemes for applications of this nature. The Member added that whilst there were benefits to the scheme, the uplift in office space could use more justification.
Another Member commented that it was useful to hear local views during the consideration of the application, adding that they supported the scheme, there being demand for office space and the proposals providing flexible and multi-use spaces. The Member added that the energy strategy for the scheme was a significant positive.
A Member voiced their concerns about the scheme, commenting that the proposals represented scope creep, being an uplift in size on an already sizeable scheme, adding that the proposals ought to be considered as a new application. The Member confirmed that they did not support the recommendation, there being no justification for the increased height and lack of extra public realm, most of which would be taken up by bike parking.
A Member noted the increase in size on the previously consented scheme, but commented that there was a degree of constraint resulting from the previous approvals. The Member added that there was a reduction in parking provision for blue badge holders, and that they felt the Committee should insist on the requisite amount of provision, given the importance of accessibility. Following confirmation that this provision within the proposals under consideration was acceptable, the Member asked that officers provide further information for Members on the requirements for different types of accommodation, such as offices, hotels and residences.
A Member commented that they remembered the Committee’s consideration of the previously consented scheme, and that there had been constant scope creep on the site since the opening of the hotel. The Member added that the Still & Star public house used to thrive, and had previously been designated as an Asset of Community Value, and that original material would not be used for its rebuild. The Member commented that they did not like the design of the building, which was out of keeping with its surroundings, and that they were not minded to support the recommendations, on the basis that the scheme represented overdevelopment.
The Chair then thanked Members for their contributions to the debate, before drawing Members’ attention to the recommendations. The Town Clerk advised that the recommendations should be considered as amended at (d) and (e), with the wording to be amended by officers in consultation with the Chair and Deputy Chair.
The Committee then proceeded to vote on the recommendations as amended, with 18 Members voting for the amended recommendation, and 5 Members voting against the amended recommendation, with no abstentions.
RESOLVED - That planning permission be granted for the above proposal in accordance with the details set out in the attached schedule subject to:
(a) Planning obligations and other agreements being entered into under Section 106 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 and Section 278 of the Highway Act 1980 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;
(b) That the land affected by the proposal which is currently public highway and land over which the public have right of access (between Aldgate and Little Somerset Street that would be built upon if the development was implemented) may be stopped up to enable the development to proceed and, upon receipt of the formal application, officers be instructed to proceed with arrangements for advertising and making of a Stopping-up Order for the various areas under the delegation arrangements approved by the Court of Common Council;
(c) That authority be delegated to officers and the Comptroller and City Solicitor to declare new highway or city walkway through the development in accordance with the principal reservations, limitations and conditions set out in this report;
(d) (i) That Officers be delegated to negotiate and execute obligations in connection with Application ref: 16/00406/FULMAJ 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 prior to the grant of planning permission pursuant to Application ref: 16/00406/FULMAJ.
(ii) That Officers be delegated to negotiate and execute obligations in connection with Applications ref: 13/01055/FULMAJ and/or 15/01067/FULL and/or 21/00271/FULMAJ (or any subsequent amendments thereto) in respect of those matters set out in "Planning Obligations" (at paragraphs 390 and 391 of the Officer’s Report) under Section 106 and any necessary agreements under Section 278 of the Highway Act 1980 prior to the grant of planning permission pursuant to Application ref: 16/00406/FULMAJ; and
(e) An application to vary planning conditions attached to consent reference 15/01067/FULL being first submitted and approved prior to the grant of planning permission pursuant to Application ref: 16/00406/FULMAJ.
*In accordance with Standing Order No. 38, Marianne Fredericks and Susan Pearson, having voted against the recommendation, asked that this be recorded in the minutes.
At this point, Deputy Alastair Moss (Deputy Chair) returned to the meeting.