At the last Planning & Transportation Committee meeting, free-standing demolition consent was sought and granted under a ‘delegated decision’ made by officers, for the site currently occupied largely by the Fleet Building and Plumtree Court.
Planning permission for the whole scheme was granted in 2012, but this application was specifically just for the demolition of the current buildings.
I thought that this ‘free-standing’ demolition was a little unusual, as whilst the existing office space has been derelict for a number of years, it obviously could provide more use than a vacant plot. That, coupled with the fact that this decision about one of the largest plots of land in our ward was granted by Officers under delegated authority rather than directly by Members, sparked my interest so I wrote to the planners for further information.
Officers stated that the developer has and continues to spent a significant amount of money to ensure that the full scheme pursuant to the 2012 permission can be carried out, and in documenting all necessary processes, including detailed arrangements with the City and TfL for highways works and related improvements. This was not considered consistent with an intention to demolish and then abandon the project. In addition, I’ve been told that “significant ‘penalties’ would be incurred in terms of enhanced CIL liabilities on future development were the 2012 permission (or a variation of it) not to be implemented in the near future”.
Indeed, the free-standing demolition consent was apparently sought to aid the development programme, as it enables demolition to commence promptly before certain “pre-implementation” requirements with third parties were in place.
The start of the demolition is the next step in the regeneration of a large area of our ward, and begins a 4-year project to build a single 1.2m sq.ft. office complex, due to become the European Headquarters of Goldman Sachs.
The currently planned building has been designed by architects Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, and includes a number of environmental enhancements that should bring improvements to the surrounding streets.
Further details of the proposed landscaping around the building, can be found in a promotional brochure from landscape architects GROSS.MAX.
While this is going to take some time to complete, I hope that this development brings much needed life and improvements to this large and almost forgotten part of our ward and City.
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