Comments for Planning Application 14/11837/FULL : 87-125 Cleveland Street

Update: 20 April 2015. This application was due to be heard on 21 April 2015 but since our representations (see below) and others in response to the sub committee report has now been withdrawn from the agenda. It will likely be heard at a later date.

14/11837/FULL | Demolition of existing building and redevelopment to provide a building of three blocks (Block A – comprising ground and nine upper floors, Block B – ground and three upper floors and Block C – ground and three upper floors) with basement and smaller sub-basement below and each separated by landscaped areas. For a mix of upto 105 residential units, provision of a petrol filling station (accessed from Clipstone Mews, exit onto Cleveland Street), provision of a mix of retail (Class A1), restaurant (Class A3), drinking establishment (Class A4), office (Class B1), non-residential institution (Class D1) and assembly and leisure (Class D2) floorspace and associated landscaping, and provision of 46 residential parking spaces and associated plant space across sub-basement, basement and ground floor levels (site includes 87 – 125 Cleveland Street, W1). | 87-89 Cleveland Street London W1T 6PJ. 

Our association strongly objects to this application which we view as completely unacceptable. It should be refused for the following reasons:

  1. Bulk and height of the scheme. The existing site is 4,051sqm GIA. The proposed is 14,291sqm GIA and includes three tower blocks — two (16m tall) are the same height as the neighbouring Holcroft Court residential block and one (36m tall) more than twice the height. The density is higher than that which is acceptable in WCC’s UDP. The UDP states up to 800 habitable rooms per hectare (hrha), the proposed scheme is 1,053 hrha. The height of the 10-storey 36m tower will have a negative impact on the Fitzroy Square conservation area and the listed building at number 68 Cleveland Street. The tower is completely out of scale and character with Cleveland Street, Maple Street and Clipstone Mews.
  2. The proximity of the building to Holcroft Court and Cleveland Street buildings. On the Clipstone Mews elevation the distance between the building and Holcroft Court will be only 8m. This will affect privacy because of windows and balconies in the proposed blocks facing Holcroft Court. Residents in the new block will be so close that they can look down into the living and bedrooms of Holcroft Court. On the Cleveland Street elevation the proposed building would be 1.6m further east than the existing as it will cover the existing pavement lights. This removes the existing forecourt and reduces the effective width of the pavement. The width between buildings on Cleveland Street would be less than 12m.
  3. Both the bulk and height of the proposed buildings will make Clipstone Mews and Cleveland Street enclosed and will have an impact on daylight and sunlight on homes and businesses in these streets. As the Cleveland Street elevation is facing northeast a shadow will be cast over much of the street by the proposed 36m tower for most of the day.
  4. The location of the petrol filling station accessed via the narrow Clipstone Mews with an exit on Cleveland Street. This will be a noise nuisance and increase traffic in both streets. It would also be a threat to the health of residents because of petrol fumes and exhaust fumes, particularly in the summer months when residents have their windows open. The City Council should prioritise health of its residents before the convenience of motorists. This is no place for a petrol station. Also the existing Clipstone Street site should no longer be considered suitable. With recent health concerns about benzene and ozone from petrol vapours, a petrol station should not be sited near homes. Any redevelopment should be an opportunity to get rid of the facility.
  5. The proposed increase in A3 and A4 uses on the site. This would increase motor traffic by way of taxis and mini-cabs and cause a nuisance when people leave. There are already many restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars nearby. This mixed-use area with a large resident population is not suitable for increased entertainment uses.
  6. The inclusion of A3 in proposals for 1,360sqm of flexible use.
  7. The loss of office space (B1) particularly the small office units where less than 10 people are employed. These are a very important part of the local economy and accommodate small businesses and add character and diversity, and encouraging entrepreneurs and start ups.
  8. The loss of retail floorspace. Although retail is included in the flexible use, the proposed A1 use is less than the existing. We also have concerns the some of the proposed retail units are very large.
  9. The lack of affordable housing on the site. The scheme proposes only 10.6 percent by area, far short of the City Council’s target of 35 percent as set out in the interim note.
  10. The lack of public open space. The scheme only provides amenity space for residents in the proposed buildings. Amenity space should be open to all to encourage mixed communities and encourage social interaction and integration.
  11. We would like to see any redevelopment be car free.
  12. The way the community involvement pre-planning was handled and the subsequent inaccurate and misleading Statement of Community Involvement produced by Four communications. The applicant withheld information about the height of the buildings. The SCI says the scheme is generally supported — this is completely untrue.
  13. (Additional comment submitted 8 January 2015.) We note there is a disused PFS at 30 Clipstone Street (also referred to as 87 Cleveland Street) and it is not protected under UDP policy TRANS 17 (A). As the PFS is not protected under TRANS 17 of the UDP an alternative use is preferred and our objection would be supported by current policy. We also note that the site has excellent public transport, cycling and walking connections.
  14. (Additional comment submitted 10 March 2015.) Further to our previous comments we are now aware of the Mayor of London’s response to the application. MoL report We wish to make the following additional comments on this application. We note the report states: “The application includes 15 affordable housing units on a shared ownership (10 units) and intermediate rent (5 units) basis provided on-site, in Block C. This equal to 14 % of affordable housing by units. In addition, a financial contribution of £3,347,000 towards the Council’s Affordable Housing Fund is proposed.” (para 24). We note from this that the proposal does not include any social-rented homes on the site. (This was not made clear in the application as publicly consulted upon.) We strongly object to not including these homes which we see as essential to maintain a mixed and balanced community in this area. We also strongly object to the low payment in lieu offered to make up for the shortfall of affordable housing on site and note the MoL’s comments which state: “the application’s affordable housing offer appears low in an area of high sale values and GLA officers are not convinced that more affordable units cannot be provided in on-site.” (para 28).
  15. Further to our previous comments we also note Camden Council’s report and objection to the plans We would like to draw your attention to paragraph 6.29 which states: “Petrol Station: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are readily evaporated into the atmosphere from petrol stations. Emissions are released when petroleum is in contact with the open air; during fuel transfer from tanker to storage, storage of fuel and filling of vehicle fuel tank. In addition, a comparison of Benzene levels against the air quality objectives (stated in the submitted AQA) should be provided. The AQA should identify sensitive receptors (existing and proposed) and confirm the impacts the proposed petrol station location will have on them. Officers consider that this is not an a suitable location for a petrol station in air quality terms given that it adjoins a busy shopping street and residential properties on Cleveland Street.” We commend these comments and would like this to be noted as an objection to the plans.

This planning application is also featured in Fitzrovia News here and here.

Update — 20 April 2015. Having read the sub-committee report, Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association maintains our strongest objection to the application. However, we wish to add the following comments on the report and would be grateful if the following comments were circulated to the sub committee:

1. Members of the planning committee should be told of the arrangements between Westminster City Council as freeholder of the site and Soho Data Holdings Ltd as a leaseholder. And that Dukelease Properties Ltd are developing the site on behalf of Soho Data Holdings Ltd. The City Council has a financial interest in this planning application and is therefore in effect a development partner.

2. The amount of payment in lieu for affordable housing suggsted by Gerald Eve in their viability assessment for WCC is less than a third of a policy compliant contribution. Members of the planning committee should have an opportunity to see the report by Gerald Eve before making its decision.

For 1 and 2 above I would suggest any decision is postponed until members have reviewed the necessary documents.

3. If the committee is minded to approve the application the hours of any A3 and A4 units should be limited to core hours. Reason: to protect residential amenity for Holcroft Court and Cleveland Street residents.

4. The hours of opening of the petrol filling station (and any ancillary shop) should be limited to 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and not open on Sundays or Bank Holidays; and petrol deliveries to the station to be restricted to between 9am and 6pm Monday to Friday, and not at all on Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays. Reason: to protect residential amenity for Holcroft Court and Cleveland Street residents.

5. A condition should be added to provide privacy screenings to prevent occupants of the development site looking directly across and down into windows of Holcroft Court, where windows and balconies face across Clipstone Mews.

6. Our association strongly objects to the lack of any social-rented housing being provided on a site of this size. This goes against protecting and developing mixed communities in the City of Westminster.

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