Ten-storey building would appear monolithic

A ten-storey, hotel development in a mixed-use area of southeast London was refused for harm to the appearance and character of the area and the setting of an adjoining non-designated heritage asset. The proposed hotel would stand within the car park of an existing ten-storey office and would be linked to that building.

The inspector considered the proposed hotel would be seen in public views because the hotel and its plant room would be a storey higher than the existing office building, even discounting its top floor setback. Taken together the jump in height between nearby buildings, at 30 metres or below, and the top of the proposed hotel plant enclosure at over 36 metres, would, he opined, be a significant increase amounting to a step change in heights. He felt the increase would be particularly apparent when seen above an adjoining non-designated heritage asset and in the degree to which the hotel would stand above an adjacent primary school.

The inspector concluded the proposal’s upper floors would appear monolithic and even assertive rather than subservient in the surrounding townscape. He was not persuaded that any particular design treatment would overcome the harm that would be caused to the character and appearance of the area by the bulk of the new hotel, and by the top floors in particular. He found conflict with the adopted local plan policy and supplementary planning guidance on tall buildings because the proposal would not make a positive contribution to the landscape or London skyline, was not at a point of landmark significance and did not relate well to its surroundings. The inspector concluded there were no benefits that overcame his concern about the scale and design of the proposal.

Inspector: David Nicholson; Inquiry

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