The proposed 13-storey building, which would replace a five-storey office block, was intended to accommodate an aparthotel with offices, a café and reception facilities at ground level. The inspector focused on the increased impact of its height and mass on living conditions for occupiers in surrounding apartment developments. He also took note of detailed pre-application discussions following dismissal of an earlier scheme, which led to council officers’ original recommendation to approve the scheme.
The site lay within a mixed-use area in the City Fringe opportunity area and London’s central activities zone, designated for substantial growth. While a nearby group of three-storey listed buildings provided something of a contrast in scale, the inspector found that the area was now characterised by tall buildings of up to 28 storeys, built at high density and in close proximity to each other. In this context, he felt that the reduction in daylight and sunlight and loss of outlook that would be experienced by nearby occupiers was unavoidable and this impact would be acceptable.
His justification was based on Rainbird v Tower Hamlets Council , which found that a greater reduction in daylight and sunlight may be unavoidable if one site is not to be unfairly prejudiced by the way another has been developed. Essentially, he felt that residents living in such a thriving, accessible and rapidly changing locality could not expect to continue to benefit from wide outlooks and high levels of sunlight and daylight by virtue of the fact that their building had been erected before others were developed.
Inspector: Colin Ball; Inquiry