MD2576 Land Adjacent to 20 Bury Street Public Inquiry
The Mayor on 15 July 2019 under powers conferred by Article 6 of the Town & Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2008 directed the City of London Corporation to refuse planning permission for the redevelopment of the land adjacent to 20 Bury Street.
The applicant has submitted a planning appeal to be heard by way of a Public Inquiry.
The Mayor approves:
Expenditure of up to £350,000 exclusive of VAT to cover the costs of defending the decision to refuse the planning application.
Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice
1. Introduction and background
1.1 A planning application for a scheme on land adjacent to 20 Bury Street in the City was submitted to the City of London Corporation on 19 November 2018. The scheme entails the demolition of existing building and structures and construction of a building to a height of 305.3m AOD (above ordnance datum) for a mixed-use visitor attraction, including viewing areas, restaurant/bar area, and retail use at ground floor level; construction of a two-storey building comprising visitor entrance and public roof garden. Following consideration at their planning committee on 2 April 2019, the City of London Corporation resolved to grant planning permission.
1.2 The Corporation advised the Mayor of the decision on 4 July 2019. Under the provisions of Article 5 of the Town & Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2008 the Mayor may allow the draft decision to proceed unchanged, direct refusal under Article 6, or issue a direction to the Corporation under Article 7 that he is to act as the Local Planning Authority for the purposes of determining the application. On 15 July 2019, the Mayor directed the City of London Corporation to refuse planning permission for the following reasons:
• the proposal would not constitute the high standard of design required for a tall building in this location;
• the proposal would compromise the ability to appreciate the Outstanding Universal Value of the Tower of London World Heritage Site and would cause harm to the historic environment, the wider skyline and image of London, strategic views, as well as the public space surrounding the site. The public benefits of the scheme are limited and would not outweigh this harm; and
• the proposals would also result in a poor quality, unwelcoming, unnecessarily confined
pedestrian environment and would provide inadequate cycle parking.
1.3 The City of London Corporation refused planning permission on the 19 July 2019. The applicant has lodged a planning appeal to be heard by way of Public Inquiry.
1.4 The GLA will be the principal party defending the Mayor’s decision as the City of London recommended approval and is in support of the applicant’s proposals. If the Mayor’s decision is not robustly presented there is a very real risk that the London Plan will be undermined to the detriment of London’s strategic planning interests. The Mayor could also incur very significant costs (in the event of a successful application for costs) should he be found to have acted unreasonably or unlawfully.
1.5 Defending the appeal will require the appointment of a Leading Counsel and expert witnesses in the areas of heritage, design and transport. It will also require significant input from several GLA officers. It is considered the costs of defending the appeal will be up to £350,000.
2.1 The principal objective is to put together an effective high-quality team of external consultants and GLA/TfL officers led by an eminent Planning Leading Counsel capable of defending the decision to refuse planning permission. The expected outcome is a robust and successful defence.
3.1. Under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, in making these decisions “due regard” must be had to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who have a protected characteristic and those who do not. Protected characteristics include age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation (and marriage or civil partnership status for the purpose of the duty to eliminate unlawful discrimination only). In this instance the proposals are not expected to have any impacts on those with protected characteristics as distinct from anyone else.
4.1 Mayoral strategies and priorities: The Mayor’s London Plan seeks to ensure that the city meets the challenges of economic and population growth whilst protecting heritage assets and ensuring a high quality of design. The Mayor’s comments and decisions on referable planning applications is a key implementation tool of the London Plan.
4.2 Risk Management issues: Regular monitoring of costs incurred will be necessary to ensure the costs are within the agreed scope and not incurred unnecessarily.
4.3 Conflicts of Interest: There are no conflicts of interest to note for any of those involved in the drafting or clearance of the decision.
5.1 Approval is sought for expenditure of up to a total of £350,000 exclusive of VAT on the engagement of a Leading Counsel and other expert witnesses necessary to defend the reasons for refusing planning permission. The indicative fees can be broken down as follows:
5.2 There are some costs associated with this appeal which fall outside of the estimated budget. The planning (including strategic views), urban design and some parts of the transport evidence can be given by the GLA and TfL officers and, as such, will not incur additional costs beyond the usual staff budget. The funding required will be from the planning smoothing reserve to be topped up as required.
5.3 These estimates above may increase or decrease but the intention is to remain within the overall envelope of £350,000. Although a contingency has been included, in the event the complexities of the case and the evidence of other parties necessitate additional resources beyond the £350,000 a further decision will be processed to increase the budget.
6.1 The above paragraphs indicate the decision requested of the Mayor falls within his statutory powers under section 30 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (as amended) (“the Act”), acting on behalf of the authority to do anything he considers that will promote the improvement of the environment in Greater London; and in formulating the proposals in respect of which a decision is sought officers have complied with the Authority’s related statutory duties to:
a) Pay due regard the principles that there should be equality of opportunity for all people;
b) Consider how the proposals will affect:
- the health of persons in Greater London;
- the health inequalities between persons living in Greater London;
- the achievement of sustainable development in the United Kingdom; and
- climate change, and the consequences of climate change and consult with appropriate bodies.
6.2 The Mayor has a statutory role as strategic planning decision maker as part of the Act and the Town and Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2008. Rigorous defending of reasons to refuse planning permission are critically important to the successful implementation of policies in the London Plan.
6.3 In taking the decisions requested, the Mayor must have due regard to the Public Sector Equality Duty; namely the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010, and to advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic (race, disability, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity and gender reassignment) and persons who do not share it and foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it (section 149 of the Equality Act 2010). To this end, the Mayor should have particular regard to section 3 (above) of this report.
6.4 The officers are reminded that the expenditure, which is set out in decision section of this MD, must be made in accordance with the requirements of the Authority’s Contracts and Funding Code.
7.1 Note that as this is at an early stage of the process the timetable contains approximate timings and is subject to change.
Engagement of Leading Counsel and consultant / internal team
Submission of Statement of Case
Circa late February 2020
Preparation of detailed case and evidence
Circa March/April/May 2020