Plans for a new 16-storey building and community space above a Roman cemetery in Central London have been given the green light, despite concerns it could lead to delivery drivers waking up residents at 5am.
City of London councillors voted overwhelmingly to approve the development at 30-33 Minories and 13 Haydon Street, also known as Writers House, which is expected to bring best-in-class offices, a new ‘pocket park’ and affordable workspace.
The site is also tipped to include a leisure centre, which could open for staff from 5am, suggested Cllr Marianne Fredericks during a planning meeting on Friday, January 26. She accused planning staff of living in a ‘parallel world’ and warned the facilities would disturb residents.
She said: “I think sometimes we live in a parallel universe because whilst we will say there will be no service between these hours and those hours, you know people do deliver at 5 o’clock in the morning [such as] gas cylinders into a licensed premises and we can’t stop them because there’s nobody there – they just turn up.”
The Tower ward cllr said colleagues needed to ‘resolve all these problems’ before granting permission. Planning staff said deliveries would only take place during servicing hours, which they suggested were different to opening times.
But the City councillor said: “I’m always keen that conditions are worded so they’re enforceable but also that we live in a real world, not this parallel world that people aren’t going to turn up [like] the white van man on the Minories, who starts slamming doors, that will wake the residents up in Fenchurch Street House and then they’ll complain.
“It would be really helpful that when we’re looking at conditions, we do so with our eyes open and feet grounding and know that people don’t comply with conditions because they don’t know about them.”
The scheme received 14 votes of approval and one abstention. Councillors also heard how the Museum of London’s Archaeology team plan to hold talks and education programmes at the site, which is located above St Clare’s 13th century abbey and Roman Cemetery, during construction.
According to a council report, the development will extend the current lower ground floor at 30-33 Minories into the car park area and excavate an additional basement across part of the site. The report said: “If during demolition, any remains of the abbey are found on the site, conditions are recommended to secure their preservation and display to the public if they demonstrate a good survival of legible structures.
“Furthermore, if following removal of the render of the western wall at Writers House, the known upstanding remains of the medieval Abbey of St Clare prove to be in good condition then conditions are recommended to require their conservation and display to the public.”
The Abbey of the Minoresses of St. Clare without Aldgate was established in the late 13th century as a monastery for Franciscan women living a secluded life. The ancient Roman burial ground came to light when in 1957, a stone sarcophagus was discovered on the site while in 2013 developers found a Roman stone sculpture of an eagle which is presumed to come from a tomb, the council said.
The proposal will see 30-33 Minories turned into ‘best-in-class’ office space cladded in blue green matt glazed brick, according to the applicant. It will have several green roof terraces with ‘English woodland’ landscaping, according to e-architect.