London mayor Boris Johnson has maintained his 100 per cent approval rate for planning call-ins after backing an office scheme by Duggan Morris refused by Islington Council last year
Johnson used his call-in powers to rule on the plans, prepared on behalf of developer Derwent Estates, after the council had ruled that the 11-storey development would harm the neighbouring Grade I-listed Bunhill Fields burial ground.
But on Monday (9 February) Johnson approved the scheme, citing the economic benefits he said would result.
The decision is the 15th call-in verdict he has made since becoming mayor, with every single ruling going in favour of the developer.
A spokesman for the mayor said: ‘London is growing at a record rate and it is of utmost importance new workspace is identified for the 861,000 new jobs that will be created over the next 20 years.
The mayor is confident the scheme will rejuvenate an inefficient and unattractive office building
‘Having visited this site personally, the mayor is confident the scheme will rejuvenate an inefficient and unattractive office building into a development that will crucially deliver genuinely affordable workspace at less than market rent for local start-up businesses, while also preserving the character and historic importance of adjoining Bunhill Fields burial ground and conservation area.’
The plans propose 13,000m² of office space, with ground-floor shops on the corner of City Road and Featherstone Street. Set to replace the 1960s Monmouth House, the scheme features two buildings of 10 and 11 storeys and another pair of five-storey blocks.
Last week, the Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development James Murray criticised the mayor’s decision to rule on the scheme.
‘Once again, the mayor has ignored local decision-making for a major planning application,’ he said.
‘He has also disregarded our concerns that the applicants have not provided the evidence needed to properly assess how this proposal will affect local residents.’
The council believes that the site is an unacceptable location for a tall building and the design could cause ’significant harm’ to the setting of Bunhill Fields.
More than 120,000 burials took place at Bunhill Fields, including the artist and poet William Blake and author Daniel Defoe.
It is the third time in two years that Johnson has overruled Islington on a major planning application in the borough.
All approved: the schemes called-in by the mayor
Monmouth House [existing] - corner of Featherstone Street and City Road