The scheme comprised 319 apartments and 1,708 square metres of flexible non-residential floorspace in two towers 26 and 30 storeys high, replacing three and four-storey late 1980s buildings. Much of the area was already characterised by tall buildings, with more proposed. The council was concerned at the towers’ height in the context of "stepping down" from those at Canary Wharf to existing three and four-storey residential development 400 metres from the appeal site.
The inspector felt that the stepping down effect was achieved and that the proposal complied with existing and emerging policy guidance because the towers would still be less than half the height of the Canada Square development at Canary Wharf. He did not feel that the towers would loom over surrounding development, significantly detract from nearby occupiers’ living conditions or cause unacceptable visual harm generally. Given the site’s location in an area designated for significant growth and the need for housing locally, he favoured the scheme overall.
He did not find the council’s arguments for a late-stage review of the scheme’s affordable housing component well made. This was not required by PPG and was unlikely to be needed given the high-rise nature of the build and the fact that the council had agreed 16 per cent provision with the developers, he concluded. On the other side of the coin, he discounted the developers’ concerns about the housing market in the context of Brexit, finding a lack of evidence on this issue.
Inspector: Paul Jackson; Inquiry