Proposals to refurbish Ibex House at 42-47 Minories have been given the green light by the City of London Corporation’s Planning Applications Sub-Committee.
Just 14 of the 34 committee members were in attendance for the vote due to adverse weather conditions, but the decision was unanimous.
Residents of nearby estates had objected to plans which will see an overhaul of the existing office space, and addition of a new cultural learning and exhibition centre and public café.
Prospero House resident Dr EJ Smith questioned the need for additional office space in the City having seen demand fall, and a shift to remote working widely embraced by workers, since the height of the pandemic.
They commented: “This proposal will be devastating for the residents of Prospero House, which sits directly opposite Ibex House on the very narrow Portsoken Street.
“The noise pollution alone from building work is likely to cause extreme disruption and disturbance over a prolonged period of time; we have only recently had a reprieve from construction noise from another large office development on the street, which as my fellow commenter points out, lies empty many months later as the pandemic has led to such a decline in the demand for office space.”
Marlyn House resident Michael Patrick shared a similar view, saying plans did not fit the “new norm”.
They commented: “Every commercial building in the immediate vicinity is either long term vacant or operating with a heavily reduced on site work force which is validated sadly by the amount of small businesses such as cafes, bars, restos etc. closed down or operating reduced days/hours per week as the white collar worker population has decreased significantly and the trend is not short term trend but is the new norm.
“The area is like a ghost town on the weekends and now with work from home the new norm, this will extend to week days as well.
“The thought of adding additional commercial office space in this area is a flawed investment by the owners/shareholders of the building and the commercial justification cannot stand the test of time as a worthy investment let alone the impact on the residents in the immediate and surround[ing] area of Ibex House.”
Approved plans include retention, internal expansion and external refurbishment of The Peacock pub, that will see its size increase from 227 square metres to 563 square metres.
Upgrades to the northern wall of Portsoken Street Garden and footpath widening works on Haydon Street, plus provision of 333 long stay and 53 short stay cycle parking spots are also included.
Chairman of the Planning Applications Sub-Committee at the City of London Corporation, Shravan Joshi, said: “This scheme is another vote of confidence in the City office market.
“It will support the flight to quality that we are seeing in the Square Mile by adding to our stock of high-quality, flexible and sustainable offices.
“The plans offer a sensitive and discrete refurbishment of Ibex House, while also creating new spaces and supporting the vitality of the surrounding area.
“I welcome the efforts to embed sustainability at the heart of this redevelopment, including by encouraging active travel through cycling.”