Jewellery quarter office extension falls short on affordable workspace

A proposal for additional floorspace at an office building in Hatton Garden in central London was refused for harm to the living conditions of adjoining occupiers and failure to provide sufficient affordable jewellery workspace as per adopted local plan policy.

On the first issue, the inspector noted the appeal building was the main component of views from the facing windows of flats on floors four and five of an adjoining residential block. The inspector considered the appeal building’s mass at close proximity was an imposing feature which already restricted outlook from the windows at the adjoining residence. They felt the proposed additional fifth floor at the appeal site would be conspicuous in views from these windows where it would run the depth of the roof and would largely obscure the last remaining open aspect above the existing building. Together with the proximity of the extension which would be only around 11.3 metres from the facing elevation of the residence, this would cause the development to appear dominant, oppressive and overbearing to occupiers of the adjoining flats. The inspector considered the impact would be particularly acute given that many of the flats were single aspect with no opportunity for alternative outlook and concluded on this issue that the proposal would detract significantly from the living conditions of these occupiers. 

The appeal site was located within the nationally important Hatton Garden jewellery quarter where specific policies required all new proposals above 200sqm to provide 50 per cent of the floorspace as affordable floorspace for the jewellery sector. The appellant was only offering around 80 sqm of such space out of a total additional floorspace of 400 sqm, arguing that 90 sqm of jewellery workspace already at the site, agreed under an earlier permission, remained vacant despite continued marketing since November 2017. But the inspector did not accept this argument because the information submitted with the proposal failed to provide adequate details of marketing methods used, how the space had been listed and terms engaged, or information on comparable properties to demonstrate that the price asked for fairly reflected the location and circumstances of the space. The inspector concluded on this issue that a lack of demand for jewellery workspace at the site had not been robustly demonstrated and concluded the proposal failed to make adequate provision for such space in conflict with adopted local plan policy.

Inspector: J Bowyer; Written representations

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