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Eric Parry’s contentious £400m Dolphin Square overhaul heads to appeal

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Eric Parry Architects’ £400 million extension proposal for Dolphin Square, London SW1, will go to a planning appeal in May this year

An eight-day inquiry overseen by a planning inspector will begin on 20 May to decide whether the expansion plan for the UK’s largest single private residential development should be allowed.

In June last year Westminster City Council’s planning committee voted to refuse the application, despite its own officers recommending it should go ahead.

Last month, US property firm Westbrook Partners, the developer behind Dolphin Square, responded by launching an application to appeal Westminster’s decision.

The 10-storey redbrick quadrangle, designed by Stanley Gordon Jeeves, has been a favourite London address for MPs, society figures, and spies, and was caught up in Operation Midland, the Metropolitan Police’s now discredited investigation into an alleged VIP paedophile ring.

Eric Parry Architects’ overhaul to the 1938 Pimlico estate aims to add 230 homes to the unlisted 1,225-flat original blocks. Proposed works included demolishing and rebuilding Rodney House, adding a rooftop extension to the rest of the estate, reconfiguring existing units and adding 16 townhouses.

A consultation on the scheme elicited 98 responses, most of which were negative. Increasing the number of serviced apartments at the development – from 143 to 160 – was a particular source of criticism, with opponents arguing it would make it harder for families to remain living in Westminster.

The Twentieth Century Society has warned that the scheme would harm the significance of the Dolphin Square Conservation Area.

‘The Society considers the decision by the Westminster planning committee to have been the right one, as the significance of the conservation area will be detrimentally affected by the proposals,’ said Clare Price, head of casework at the society.

‘It is unusual for a conservation area effectively to be made up of one building – the demolition of an entire quarter of any other conservation area would be met with horror, and rightly so. The proposed extensions will also have a detrimental impact on the gardens of the square, which have now been designated as a Registered Park and Garden. The plans should have been re-addressed in the light of this,’ she added.

Announcing the decision to appeal last month, a spokesperson for Dolphin Square said: ‘We remain very committed to Eric Parry’s beautifully designed scheme to secure the future of Dolphin Square for the next 100 years.

‘It will provide 230 new residential flats, including 57 on-site affordable housing units (with 23 for social rent), comprehensive refurbishment of the existing estate, extension of the Thames River Path, enhanced leisure and retail facilities, together with extended gardens accessible to the public.’

A spokesperson for the planning inspectorate said the inspector will retire to consider the evidence after the inquiry and a decision will be published at a later date.

Dolphin square, grosvenor road, pimlico london please credit as architectural press archive riba collections

Dolphin Square, Grosvenor Road, Pimlico, London shortly after completion in 1939

Source: Architectural Press Archive/ RIBA Collections

Dolphin Square, Grosvenor Road, Pimlico, London shortly after completion in 1939

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