Report of the Chief Planning Officer and Development Director
The Committee considered a report of the Chief Planning Officer and Development Director in respect of Boundary House, 7-17 Jewry Street, London EC3N 2EX – specifically, the demolition of the building and the erection of a basement, ground plus part 14 storey and part six storey building plus plant comprising of a 311 bedroom hotel with a ground floor cafe/bar and roof top restaurant (Use Class C1) and office floorspace (Use Class E) at part ground and part first floor with ancillary community uses, hard and soft landscaping, cycle parking and associated works.
The Town Clerk advised that an addendum containing late representations and an updated whole life carbon assessment, and the officer’s presentation, had been circulated to Members in advance, before outlining 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.
Rudolf Ploberger, on behalf of the Ploberger Group, addressed the Committee in support of the application. The Committee was provided with an introduction to the applicant and their recent history, which since 2010 had involved a number of schemes in London converting buildings into hotels. The applicant had successfully delivered large international hotels with a focus on community hubs.
Richard Ploberger, on behalf of the Ploberger Group, also addressed the Committee in support of the application. The Committee heard that the applicant had worked with officers to create a new and different scheme focussed on creativity and culture, featuring a combined co-working space and a commitment to making free-to-use spaces available to local groups. The scheme would also target a BREEAM rating of Excellent.
Dan Burr, on behalf of Sheppard Robson, also addressed the Committee in support of the application. The Committee heard that the scheme would support evening and weekend activity, in line with the Destination City initiative. The project would provide an appropriate solution for an infill site and replace a building that was inflexible to change. The new façade would bring better shaping, and the scheme would create seating and greening at ground level, as well as a co-working and cultural facility, restaurant and bar on the fourteenth floor. The design of the scheme reflected and evolved the character of the local area, and the wall colours complemented the listed building nearby.
The Chairman then invited questions of those speaking in support of the application. In response to a question from the Chairman, the applicant advised that the ground floor was intended to have an inclusive and welcoming ethos, with accessible entrances at each end, and provision for disabled parking on Carlisle Avenue. With regards to the impact on daylight, the applicant advised that whilst there was a need to balance this impact, the location could sustain increased density, and this had been accounted for throughout the design development, with studies forming part of the application. Given the location, it was not unusual for such a scheme to have an impact on daylight, and the benefits of the scheme outweighed any harm.
A Member asked what the scheme could contribute towards making the area a destination, either at street level or on site, and commented that the Committee should include within a S278 agreement commitments to improve the surrounding area. The applicant responded that the building had been sculpted in a way that included seating and planting, as well as the community facility on the ground floor.
Another Member commented that the pledge to facilitate ten hours of free use per week for community groups was disappointing and ought to be improve upon. The Member asked when RPI indexing would start being applied to the discounted provision, and suggested that during periods when the space was not booked, additional discounted community use should be allowed. The Member then then sought assurances that motion detectors would be provided throughout the site to minimise lighting in unoccupied rooms. The applicant confirmed that sensors would be installed to reduce energy consumption and light pollution, and that RPI indexing would start at the granting of planning permission for the scheme. With regards to the community facility, the Committee was advised that ten hours of free use each for community groups and for higher educational use would be provided, but the applicant was committed to working with officers and would consider increasing this provision, to be secured by S106 agreement. The applicant was also willing to offer additional discounted use for these groups when the facility was not booked.
In response to a question from a Member, the applicant advised that the rooftop would not be accessible to the public, with the greening aiming to provide more biodiversity. However, more greening would be provided with the 14th-floor restaurant and bar. Street trees had also been explored as part of the scheme, but the pavement in the vicinity was found to be too narrow, so other greening would be provided at street level. The existing building bridged over Carlisle Avenue, and a vaulted feature would open up and draw people into the area, facilitating further improvement to the area. The Committee was also advised that the stepped seating area would be made up of double-height steps, which would hopefully be clearly for use as seating.
The Chairman then invited the Committee to ask questions of officers. A Member asked whether amendments had been made to the design and massing of the scheme that would minimise the daylight/sunlight impact on the student residential building nearby. The Chief Planning Officer and Development Director responded that this was the case, and that officers had worked to reduce the height of the scheme. The massing had also been reduced on the south side which reduced the impact on the student residential building. In response to a supplementary question regarding the co-working space, the Chief Operating Officer advised that the hotel operator would manage the space, which would be secured by S106 agreement, with a management plan.
In response to a question from a Member, the Chief Planning Officer and Development Director confirmed that the applicant had followed the whole life carbon draft advice note, and had considered a range of options. The results provided were reasonable and the scheme would have a lower carbon impact then a completely new building. The Chief Planning Officer and Development Director also advised that there was clear demand in the hotel development sector and that both hotel and office accommodation would be needed going forward.
A Member commented that the Committee should not try to outguess the market, and that diversity would be needed in the pipeline, with the market deciding whether particular development was needed. The Member asked whether the configuration could be changed to include more footway and other ways to change the surrounding area. The Chief Planning Officer and Development Director advised that this could be built into negotiations for the S278 and S106 agreements. In response to a related comment from a Member, the Chief Planning Officer and Development Director advised that officers monitored the percentage of approved applications that proceeded to completion and could compile this data for the Committee’s information.
The Committee then proceed to debate the application. A Member commented that the ward was mixed between business, hotels and residents, and that there should be a push to have more greening and pedestrianisation in the area, as the area was very busy at the weekend. The community use aspects of this and other developments should also be pushed to achieve maximum provision.
A Member expressed their support for the application, but urged officers to account for the Committee’s comments in negotiating the S106 agreement and conditions around lighting. The Chief Planning Officer and Development Director confirmed that this would be taken into account.
Arising from the discussion, the Chairman moved the Committee to a vote. The Committee then proceeded to vote on the recommendations as amended, with 19 Members voting for the recommendation, no Members voting against the amended recommendation, and no Members abstaining. The recommendations were therefore agreed.
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; and
(b) That Officers be 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.