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Planners rule out penthouse addition for Lasdun block

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Munkenbeck + Marshall's plans to build a penthouse apartment on top of Sir Denys Lasdun's Keeling House tower block in Bethnal Green, east London, have been rejected by planners.

The move could set up a confrontation between the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and Sir Denys himself, according to M + M partner Stephen Marshall, who claims that Sir Denys backs its plan in principle. The application will go to planning appeal if the planning committee backs the recommendation to refuse permission.

M + M and property developer Lincoln Holdings have already restored the Grade II*-listed former social housing block to its original state and apartments are now being sold there for as much as £375,000. They wanted to alter and extend the disused water tank on top of the block to create a two-storey penthouse with roof terrace. When M + M consulted Sir Denys about its plans he told the practice that this would be the best place to put the extension and he said it was something he would like to have done, although he has not seen the detailed designs.

'It's ironic that the original architect wants this, ' Marshall said. 'It will be an interesting appeal about who is the authority [on such conversions].'

Tower Hamlets planners said that the addition would 'destroy the integrity of the building' and was 'top heavy and clumsy'.

Conservationist group the Twentieth Century Society also raised strong objections to the proposal and said that it would 'deface Sir Denys Lasdun's seminal work'.

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