A post-modernist building near the Barbican is set to be modernised despite strong opposition from neighbouring residents and businesses.
The Arindel Properties design for 150 Aldersgate Street includes a ground floor café, 17,000 sqm of office floorspace and urban greening, and squeezed through the Planning Committee by 14 votes to 12, with two abstentions.
A City of London Corporation statement said the development, at the heart of the Culture Mile, will improve pedestrian experience with the introduction of level access to the building and the upgrading of Braidwood Passage with new lighting and public art.
Chair of the Planning and Transportation Committee, Alastair Moss, said: “The approved scheme demonstrates that the City continues to be an attractive location for developers and investors despite the pandemic. It offers modern and flexible office space in a popular Square Mile area and will play its part in making the City a thriving 24/7 destination for residents, workers and visitors.
“The many urban greening elements, including roof terraces, tree planting and landscaping, will provide benefits to both office occupiers and the wider local community by improving visual amenity, well-being and biodiversity.”
However, Councillor Graeme Harrower believes a premature end to the debate resulted in members being denied a chance to voice their opposition to the plans.
Part way through the debate, the Chair accepted a motion by Sheriff Christopher Hayward to cease discussion, which was carried by 15 votes to 12.
This resulted in officers not being able to answer questions put by members who had already spoken, and in some members not speaking at all.
Cllr Harrower said: “Planning decisions are ultimately judgment calls. Good judgment involves seeing through pretence, like green washing and art washing, and not accepting rationalisations about daylight and exaggerated “public benefit” that offend common sense.
“Rather, good judgment involves striking a fair balance between two competing planning considerations: in this case, office refurbishment on the one hand, and residential and business amenity on the other.
“In this case, that balance is easily struck: two unnecessary extra storeys of an existing office building should not take precedence over the quality of residents’ lives and neighbouring business amenity.