Communal open space compromised by high rise living

An attempt to add two floors to a high rise building containing 514 apartments in east London was thwarted because of the inability to maintain the quality of communal open space.

The scheme involved adding two floors to create seven duplex apartments above a 14 storey building and followed a failed appeal in 2013. The appellant stated that the scheme had been re-designed to relocate an area of open space to the top of the building and while this would result in a reduced area its quality would be improved through a number of structures, features and landscaping that the current area did not benefit from. The company asserted that the existing space was unattractive and lacked variation.

In disagreeing with this conclusion an inspector decided that the existing space was large and relatively open, and could be used for sitting out with residents being able to appreciate its spacious nature. Reducing its extent would not be offset by adding additional features and landscaping particularly since the effects would be exacerbated by the area’s highly built-up character, limited availability of alternative space elsewhere and on warm days residents would benefit from an airy expanse of space offering wide-ranging views.

In addition, the scheme would result in a density of almost 1,100 habitable rooms per hectare. The area’s environmental and social infrastructure was somewhat constrained by the high density of existing development and limited open space. Consequently, it would not meet the requirement of the London plan to secure high quality ‘liveability’ and successful long term management of communal areas.

Inspector David Lamont; Written representations

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