To whom is may concern,
I do not believe Tower Hamlets Council (the LPA) is in a position to make a decision on PA/15/00837, as the developers have not adequately addressed the issues arising under the EIA Regulations.
The proposals as they stand will result in harmful impacts to the significance of the Grade II listed Albion Brewery and the Grade I listed Trinity Green Almshouses. The effect of section 66 of the Listed Buildings Act 1990 is that the Council must have special regard to the desirability of preserving the setting of the listed buildings affected by the proposed development. As you will be aware the designation for the Almshouses at Trinity Green is the highest. You will also be aware from your files that the importance of the preservation and enhancement of Trinity Green has been properly recognized by the LPA when considering applications for neighbouring development since 1990. In particular, the development of the Chronos Building was not permitted to extend above the roofline of Trinity Green as viewed from the east side.
In the visual assessment of key viewpoints, the developers have incorrectly identified Trinity Green as a private space. The almshouse courtyard is described as a “shared private amenity space for the use of the residents only.”
This is factually incorrect. The grassed areas, the common parts/ courtyard, the Chapel and the street frontage of the Green are owned by the Council and maintained at public expense. The Green is open to the public to enjoy and is accessible to the public during the day.
The visual assessment states that “Public views are generally attributed greater value than views from private property because they are experienced by a greater number of people and can be more accurately assessed through the use of surveyed viewing points.”
As the viewpoints within the courtyard are public and not private views the factual premise on which the judgments have been made within the visual assessment is flawed.
The developers were/are required to provide “An outline of the main design alternatives and the main reasons for the selection of the preferred design option taking into account environmental effects;” including the “key designs assessed throughout the design evolution and how environmental considerations have influenced the design”
It is apparent that the developers and the LPA met on the 2nd July when the massing for the rest of the site was agreed:
“The additional information presented at the meeting on the 2nd July, including a comprehensive set of street views, sections and information on the townhouses, was sufficient to satisfy them that the remainder of the scheme massing was considered to be appropriate and that therefore the only outstanding design item to address was the massing of the ‘Landmark’ building.”
The reduction of the “landmark tower” by five stories does not lessen the substantial adverse impact of the proposal on the significance of heritage assets. There is no evidence that an alternative position for the “landmark tower” has been considered. The design and access statement seems only to demonstrate alternative square massing and rectilinear options for the “landmark tower”. At no point does it demonstrate consideration of moving the position of the tower or delivery of housing benefit by the provision of housing in buildings of lesser height.
An alternative position of the “landmark tower” to the west of the current proposed position would clearly have less impact on the setting of the Grade II listed Albion Brewery and Grade I listed buildings at Trinity Green.
The developers have not considered alternative positions of the tower that would avoid or reduce harm to designated heritage assets or, in effect, any alternative designs that show how environmental considerations have influenced the design so as to lessen the impact on heritage assets. There is thus nothing before the LPA to indicate (and nor could it reasonably said) there are no alternative designs which would not have the same or similar harmful effects on the heritage assets.
The LPA should therefore use its powers under the EIA regulations to require the developer to properly address these issues. Unless addressed it will be impossible for the LPA to lawfully approve the application.
When viewed in proper context this is not sustainable development within the NPPF and should be refused.