The proposal comprised 332 residential units, including 71 affordable homes, plus retail, restaurant and community facilities. The main issues were the tall building’s impact on the local townscape and whether it would represent overdevelopment of the site. The council was particularly concerned about its impact on views from Greenwich Park protected through the London View Management Framework.
Apart from the local and national policy context, the inspector referred to Historic England’s Advice Note 4 on tall buildings and various supplementary planning documents. He found that the area was changing rapidly with many tall buildings under construction, including a 52-storey building immediately adjoining the site. He noted that the site was included in an emerging opportunity area planning framework promoting comprehensive high-density residential-led mixed developments, as long as they respect existing character, but also lay in an area where development should provide a transition between higher-rise commercial areas and a lower-rise residential townscape.
In considering the scheme’s impact on lower-rise development some 100 metres away, the inspector felt that the existing juxtaposition between traditional domestic-scale buildings and tall tower blocks was already a dramatic and distinctive characteristic of the area. In his view, the proposal would play a part in an irregular but progressive stepping down in height from the centre of Canary Wharf to the surrounding residential areas. It would not appear unduly prominent in local views and would be consistent with the area’s character, he decided.
He was not concerned about overdevelopment, given that the building would still leave space on the site for significant public realm improvements. He held that it would not cause overshadowing, loss of privacy or sunlight, and would provide high-quality accommodation. He was satisfied that the scheme would have no impact on appreciation of the view from Greenwich Park and would make a positive contribution to the panorama by infilling a small gap and adding variety and interest to the skyline.
Inspector: Colin Ball; Inquiry