Broadway Malyan is facing fresh scrutiny of its plans to flatten the Grade II-listed former Birds Eye headquarters in Surrey
Communities secretary James Brokenshire issued an Article 31 holding direction preventing Elmbridge Borough Council from formally approving the controversial redevelopment proposal while he reconsiders whether to make a decision himself.
The scheme – to build 375 homes plus ground-floor commercial units and car parking on the 6ha Walton Court site once used by food manufacturer Birds Eye – was approved in principle by Elmbridge Borough Council in August.
But heritage body the Twentieth Century Society has made a second request for the government to intervene in the planning process following a recent Court of Appeal decision.
Lord Justice Coulson last week ruled that ministers should have given reasons for refusing to intervene in Renzo Piano’s controversial Paddington Cube scheme in west London.
The judge pointed out that under policy dating back to 2001, ministers must give reasons when they decline to call in planning applications.
So the Twentieth Century Society is hoping to force the government to look again at Broadway Malyan’s Walton-upon-Thames project. The society has submitted a fresh request for a call-in, on the grounds of changing circumstances.
Twentieth Century Society caseworker Grace Etherington said: ‘No reasons were given by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government when it refused to call in the planning application for Walton Court on 14 September.
‘In light of the recent [Paddington Cube] ruling, we consider that response to be deficient, and we think these are substantial grounds warranting a reconsideration of the case.
‘The original promise to explain decision making was made in the interest of transparency, good administration and best practice. It is clearly right that ministers should be clear about the reasons for their decisions.’
Broadway Malyan beat Scott Brownrigg, HLM and Pollard Thomas Edwards to land the Walton Court job in 2016.
Developers A2 Dominion and Crest Nicholson said retention of the existing 1961 building – one of the first corporate HQs to be built outside London – was unviable. They estimated it would cost £40 million to repair the landmark.
Broadway Malyan declined to comment on the latest challenge. The government confimed a holding direction had been issued while Brokenshire considered whether to call in the scheme.
Birds Eye Foods office building, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey: one of the internal courtyards with ornamental pool - picture taken 1963
Source: John Maltby/RIBA Collections