Thursday, 26 October 2017

We're preparing to fight our big bad neighbour

We’ve now lodged detailed grounds and all the necessary papers with the Planning Court and are waiting for the City and Taylor Wimpey to file a reply before the court makes a decision whether the Judicial Review can proceed. If permission is refused we need funds to renew our application at a Court hearing.  

Bowater House draped with protest banners
Spectres of Modernism

Our main arguments, in summary, are:
·        The planners should not have agreed to Taylor Wimpey paying only £4.5million towards off-site “affordable” homes which is less than half what the City’s published housing policy requires.  If Taylor Wimpey claims it can’t now meet those planning requirements, because it paid the City too much for the site, then that was their risk and the community should not lose out on affordable homes. 

Savill's Hong Kong are advertising Denizen Apartments price at £695,000-£2,375,000, the block includes marble flooring and a private cinema and TW say they can't afford to pay the correct 'affordable' homes contribution. 

·        The planners failed to properly assess the damage which The Denizen will cause to the heritage of the area, particularly the Grade II listed buildings and landscape of the Golden Lane Estate and to the Grade II Cripplegate Institute and the Jewin Welsh Church.

The proposed building will loom over the Jewin Welsh Church and overshadow Prior Weston School, Fortune Street Park and Bowater House, as well as all the other surrounding buildings.

View from one Bowater Maisonette . Bowater House is set back from the pavement to allow further developments opposite without blocking out sunlight. Bernard Morgan House was designed to complement the Golden Lane Maisonettes and allow sunlight to heat and light the GLE flats. 

·       The planners completely ignored its policy regarding minimizing CO2 emission and climate change when it considered The Denizen’s overshadowing effect on local homes. The Golden Lane estate’s homes were designed to benefit from solar energy but some homes will lose up to 62% of their winter sunlight and will have to burn additional energy for heating and lighting.

The Golden Lane Maisonettes were designed with large windows to be heated by the winter sun. In the summer the overhangs stop the flats from overheating. 

·        The planners wrongly accepted Taylor Wimpey’s claims that, although the height and mass of The Denizen will admittedly permanently reduce many local homes to below standards for minimum sunlight and daylight, the “major” cause of that is that the homes are “bad neighbours” because of their “unusual” design – namely balconies which cause partial summer shade to windows. (That design is not unusual -  it’s common across the entire Golden Lane Estate and The Barbican!)

Bowater House is built back from its boundary line
and is a  ‘good neighbour’ allowing fair development of BMH which was built later.

The planners failed to provide us with accurate information about Taylor Wimpey’s overshadowing calculations before the planning committee meeting. We later received clarification, and an apology, and have commissioned a second independent report. This has revealed more serious overshadowing than had been reported to the Planning Committee. It appears that windows which would not be affected had been included in the Taylor Wimpey calculations which created the misleading impression that the overshadowing effect would be less than in fact it will be.
Bowater's small north facing rear windows are not overshadowed by the Denizen, so why were they included in TW's overshadowing report?

·        The planners ignored the consultation objections from Prior Weston School and Friends of Fortune Park which informed them that the facilities were heavily used at the times when the afternoon overshadowing would be worst. Instead the City only considered the earlier periods when it decided the effect would be “minor adverse”. 

Children playing in Fortune Street Park after school 

Our solicitor has also had yet another hand delivered threatening letter from Taylor Wimpey’s solicitors, Dentons, telling us that our complaints are “totally without merit”, that we will face legal costs penalties and that Taylor Wimpey refuse to agree not to demolish Bernard Morgan House before our complaints are decided by the Court. However we refuse to be brow beaten by expensive City lawyers.
We have invited the planners, once again, to agree to nullify Taylor Wimpey’s planning permission before even greater public expense is incurred.   We are now awaiting the City and Taylor Wimpey’s formal response to our Court application. 
If the Court grant us permission this could be a long and expensive battle and we need all the financial support possible to protect our community from this gross, venal and unnecessary block of luxury flats.  Please support this campaign and donate on the Crowd Justice page. 

Here are pictures of buildings around the area which all have overhang or recessed balconies – and which are part of their Grade II listed designs. Taylor Wimpey alleges, and the City agreed, that such designs make them “bad neighbours” (because the balconies cause some shade to the rooms below). The Denizen will reduce the natural light within homes to below minimum standards. TW argue that the ”major cause” of that is their design and not the height, mass and proximity of Taylor Wimpey’s development. They are blaming the loss of light Bowater House and Barbican flats will suffer on Chamberlin, Powell and Bon's designs of these world famous listed buildings. 

The Barbican Towers overhanging balconies

Breton House overhanging balconies 

Basterfield House, Golden Lane Estate, overhanging balconies

Bowater House overhanging balconies

St Mary's Tower recessed balconies

Peabody Buildings recessed balconies

Bernard Morgan House overhanging balconies
And even the Denizen has overhanging balconies, but not as elegantly designed as these other balconies 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Meanwhile at the offices of Super Stylish PR...

Where’s the intern? - ah there you are Tarquin. What time do you call this? Never mind - one of our developer clients is having a bit of bother. Apparently their new development is going to plunge the locals into darkness, blot out the sun from the local park like something from the Old Testament. There’s a bit of a fuss in the Guardian about it.

Sure. Yes. Oops. It was, er, a puncture sir.

Yes, yes, well put out a puff piece in the Standard - outdated building - fresh wave - wow factor,  you know the sort of thing.

Sure. Absolutely.

Its for the Far East market really, looks like something from Kowloon side - Jacquetta thought up a super stylish name with some kind of Zen thing, but try and make it sound like people might actually be able to live there - put down umm.. roots...

Roots sir?

Make sure they know its central - near Harrods and all that, but cheap, cheap, cheap and see if you can't squeeze a reference to Christopher Wren - but Tarquin?

Sure, Yes, What sir?

For God's sake don’t mention the Golden Lane Estate. They’re the ones causing all the bother. They’ve put some bloody great banners up with Turner paintings on them or something.

Absolutely. Great. Sure. 

Ten minutes later...

Yep, great, all done. Now what was it I wasn’t supposed to mention?

Thursday, 12 October 2017

We have applied to the Court to challenge the planning permission.

We are so grateful for the donations we have received on the Crowd Justice Page - we have nearly reached our target. 

OPEN (Golden Lane) has issued a claim in the High Court seeking permission to judicially review the City's grant of planning permission for The Denizen. 

The proposed building TWCL have decided to call The Denizen

If we don't initially get permission we hope we can raise enough donations to re-apply at a Court hearing when a barrister will argue our case. 

Please let everyone know that we are depending on people's donations to make this possible.

Huge thanks are also due to the artists and helpers who have mounted the Bowater House banner protest exhibition. It has really helped raise public awareness of the issues.  

Nearly every resident in Bowater House now has a protest banner hanging from their balcony

This protest brings some expressive poetry to a horrendous situation and gives a voice to the local people who have been ignored and insulted by the developers and the City of London Planning Committee.

You can read some of the press coverage here

The Art Newspaper

There is more about the banners protest here