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AHMM elbowed off contentious scheme near Barbican

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AHMM has been removed from a housing scheme near the Barbican – only the second time director Paul Monaghan has failed to be novated on a project in his 27 years at the practice

The AJ100 practice had drawn up plans for the 99-flat scheme in Golden Lane, which scraped through planning last month despite opposition from local residents and the Twentieth Century Society.

A spokesperson from Taylor Wimpey, the developer behind the controversial 11,113m² scheme, confirmed that AHMM was ’no longer working on the project’, adding that Belfast-based architect White Ink had instead been appointed by its contractor to deliver the scheme. 

Monaghan told the AJ he felt let down by the decision, but that this was the result of the contractor and not Taylor Wimpey.

‘We are really disappointed that we will not be able to build out Bernard Morgan House,’ he said. ‘We know Taylor Wimpey tried their best to get us appointed [to deliver the job] but the contractors were simply not interested.

‘This is only the second time in more than 27 years that this has happened to me – namely not being novated. Given that the project is so near our office and is on such a sensitive site, we do hope that the interpretation of our planning drawings in maintained.’

He added: ‘I do think our reputation in terms of the detailed design played a part in the scheme getting planning. However, we wish them luck with the project.’

The planning application for the building, which ranges from four to 10 storeys in height, received 182 objections, including those from the Twentieth Century Society and Barbican residents. 

The society has hit out at the plans in Golden Lane, around a third of a mile north of the Barbican Centre, because they involve the demolition of the 1960-built Bernard Morgan House.

The former Metropolitan Police building, which has been vacant since April 2015, was designed by J Innes Elliott. 

Twentieth Century Society conservation adviser Tess Pinto said: ‘Bernard Morgan House (BMH) represents a modest yet sophisticated strand of post-war Modernism that is still massively underappreciated, as this decision proves.

‘In this part of the City of London, close to Golden Lane and the Barbican, the character of the area is of note for this particular quality of post-war architecture and for the sensitive spatial planning of the whole, which the massive replacement development at BMH will impact.’

Bernard Morgan House represents a strand of post-war Modernism that is massively underappreciated

She added that this development was ‘part of a worrying trend in the area that shows no sign of abating’.

In a letter to Historic England in 2015, the society supported a listing bid for Bernard Morgan House, stating that it was ‘remarkable for its architectural detailing’, which was similar to that of the neighbouring Grade II-listed Bowater House. It claimed it was ‘probably the first Modernist post-war police section house, and the last to be constructed for the Met’.

Plans for the Golden Lane scheme were originally submitted in June 2016, for 104 flats also designed by AHMM. However, this application was withdrawn and a revised scheme submitted in November 2016. 

John Whitehead, a resident of Breton House on the Barbican estate, described the plans in an objection letter as ‘ugly and inappropriate’ for the area.

A number of local residents also objected to the scheme over concerns that they would result in a loss of daylight to neighbouring properties such as Bowater House. 

A BRE report for the planning application noted that the proposed building would result in the loss of daylight ‘outside the basic BRE guidelines’ for 26 main windows in Bowater House. It added that this was ’mainly due to the balconies and overhangs above the windows’ in Bowater House, without which the windows would comply. 

But Bowater House resident Emma Matthews stated in her written objection to the scheme: ‘It doesn’t make sense to pretend that the balconies and overhangs don’t exist. This is illogical.

‘Remember that [Bowater House] is a listed building. Designed as part of a densely urban setting. The balconies are an important part of the architectural integrity of the block.’

A cash-in-lieu payment of £4.5 million towards off-site affordable housing will be paid by Taylor Wimpey as part of the conditions for the scheme.

The planning report states that ‘this level of contribution is below the target set by the local plan, but it is the maximum feasible and viable contribution that could be made and therefore is acceptable under local plan policy CS21 and the London Plan’.

Some 29 objections were received by the City of London on the grounds that the scheme included no on-site affordable housing. 

Work is expected to start on site later this year, with a completion date scheduled towards the end of 2018. 

Bmh facade study models

Bmh facade study models

Source: AHMM/Taylor Wimpey

Study models

Project data

Location Golden Lane, London
Type of project Residential
Client Taylor Wimpey Central London
Architect AHMM
Landscape architect BBUK
Planning consultant DP9
Structural engineer Walsh
M&E consultant FHPP
Quantity surveyor Emmaus
Planning supervisor DP9
Lighting consultant Point 2
Start on site date Third or fourth quarter in 2017
Completion date Fourth quarter of 2018 (subject to start date)
Contract duration 24 months
Form of contract and/or procurement JCT


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