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25/08/2015

Tower Hamlets planning rejection could be difficult to defend

Words: Laura Edgar
Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets Council’s decision to refuse a British Land scheme could be difficult to defend, according to a planning report.

The report (PDF), published by planning officers ahead of a Tower Hamlets Council committee meeting on August 27, concerns the application for planning permission and listed building consent for land in North Folgate put forward by British Land.

It was refused in July this year.

The development would have comprised 320,000 square feet of office space, residential and retail floor space. However, it was refused based on the loss of heritage and subsequent harm to the conservation area as well as the lack of housing, including affordable housing, in the scheme.

Now, though, planning officers at the council have stated in the report that reasons for refusal “could be defended at appeal, however, the likelihood of success may be limited, particularly with regard to the low proportion of housing within the scheme”.

The reasons for this, says the report, include that the core strategy identifies that there is a need for both employment floor space and new housing. Apart from “preferred office locations and local office location” it doesn’t specify which should be promoted over the other.

Additionally, the report cites that a monitoring report for 2012-2013 states that 37,028 square metres of office floor space has been lost over this period, predominately to residential space.

As a result, officers stick to their original recommendation to grant planning permission and listed building consent. Section 106 agreements will have to be met.

Although it has not stated if it will, should British Land decide to appeal against the decision, it could submit an award of costs application against the council. The report also warns that Planning Inspectorate guidance on appeals says that while planning authorities do not have to accept the recommendation of officers, if it is not followed, “’authorities will need to show reasonable planning grounds for taking a contrary decision and produce relevant evidence on appeal to support the decision in all respects”.

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