Christopher Young QC and Sioned Davies successful on an appeal for new tall buildings in London

Wed, 15 Dec 2021

The new London Plan was finally adopted in March this year. The previous London Plan was produced for Mayor Boris. It stacked housing in the inner boroughs, mostly controlled by Labour. But he allowed the outer boroughs, many controlled by Conservatives, to have much lower numbers. Delivery has never got above 39,000 in London for the last 10 years. Yet the Government’s Standard Method now seeks 92,000 a year in London. Mayor Khan’s new London Plan keeps those high numbers in the inner boroughs but matches them with new, equally high numbers in the outer boroughs. Quite right too as the outer boroughs have vast swathes of open land. But it’s all Green Belt, so it’s released poses political challenges.

So what’s the answer? Well the answer is that suburban London needs to go up. Only it turns out that isn’t popular either. As this new appeal decision issued yesterday demonstrates. Through several years of painstaking work Holly Mitchell, a Director of Simply Planning Limited, worked on behalf of Viewpont Estates, from London’s Greek Cypriot community, to redevelop their 1980s four storey office blocks into a large scale residential-led scheme. Holly, working with award winning architect Chris Bath of BPTW and his team including Peter Sofoluke, and Conservation Architect Ignus Froneman varied, amended and altered the scheme to meet criticism, advice and guidance. In the end every single professional in the numerous public bodies who assessed the scheme supported it. That included the officers of Enfield Council, the Mayor, the local Design Review and Historic England.

Local residents however, objected. So councillors refused the scheme. And the clients were forced into the appeal they didn’t want. But after five long years, yesterday, the appeal was allowed by Inspector Paul Griffiths. He didn’t even feel the need to get into the perilous state of Enfield’s five year housing supply, addressed by Ben Pycroft of Emery Planning and it’s affordable housing supply addressed by James Stacey of Tetlow King Planning.

Chris Bath’s vertical design spoke for itself. And Ignus’ assessment of the heritage impact was accepted in full. The elegant 1930s Grade II* listed underground station at Southgate is low, flat and horizontal. As the inspector observed, a 1930s photo showed “the new station resembles a recently-landed spacecraft whose downdraught has cleared the space around it” . The key design response was not to try and replicate that, as had been done in the 1960s. But to create a proposal which contrasted with it, with vertical emphasis. The critical independent design evidence was provided by Chris Miele of Montague Evans.  

The appeal decision can be found here.

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