Objections to planned works on Grade-II listed building

Objections to planned works on Grade-II listed building
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Plans to carry out a host of repairs and improvement works at an iconic Grade-II listed housing block in Central London have raised concerns from residents.

Crescent House, part of the Golden Lane Estate and built by the same architects as the nearby Barbican Estate, is being lined up for various upgrades including fixing and redecorating the building’s windows, though more than 50 objections have been filed indicating some unease around the City of London Corporation’s proposals.

Built between 1953 and 1962 by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon prior to their work on the Barbican, the Golden Lane Estate was constructed to provide much-needed housing in an area of London heavily bombed during World War Two. The Crescent House proposals are part of a wider package of upgrades planned for the Golden Lane Estate, as the Corporation looks to refresh the area’s housing stock and take steps towards its net zero targets.

The plans include the replacement of single glazing with vacuum glazing, repairing the existing window frames, and work on the concrete vaulted roofs, in a bid to improve the energy efficiency of each home. The application follows a pilot of vacuum glazing at one of the flats in Crescent House, the findings of which have been fed into the wider proposals.

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Documents published by the Corporation however highlight how a total of 54 objections were raised by 16 objectors, including the Golden Lane Estates Residents’ Association. While several of those opposing said they agree the windows of Crescent House are in need of repairs, with one resident claiming the building had suffered from “20 years of neglect by the City of London Corporation”, ongoing issues of damp and mould and the potential alterations to some of the windows’ original features were among the concerns raised.

One of the objectors wrote: “The bay window areas in many flats have extensive damp and mould, this has to be addressed in the schedule of works, as any project that fails to make these repairs, is failing to address the real scope of work.” Another resident raised doubts around the pilot, due to it only involving a flat on the third floor, with the impacts on the first and second floors untested. “The CoL [City of London] and MWT has a now a (sic) long- and well-established tradition of messing up every ventilation project it undertakes (twice failed in the last 3 years, it takes some skills!),” they wrote. “The lack of details in the application regarding the ventilation is preparing a 3rd fiasco.”

The proposed works did also receive supportive submissions, with architectural heritage campaigners The Twentieth Century Society and Historic England among those backing the scheme. Some of the initial objections also related to concerns around the pilot being ongoing at the time of the application’s submission, though this has since been completed.

According to a report on the proposals, the works would result in “significant” reductions in costs for residents heating their homes. For example, a middle floor flat may see a drop in energy demand from 229kWh/m2 per year to 116kWh/m2, if heated to 20 degrees. If heated using gas, this could result in a reduction from £1,020 per year to £581, or if electricity is used, from £3,006 to £1,603.

The report also notes the proposals are expected to result in “a slight level of less than substantial harm to the Grade-II listed building”, due to small changes to the appearance of Crescent House. However, given their anticipated “public benefits”, officers have recommended that both planning permission and listed building consent are given, alongside conditions.

A decision is due to be made by the Corporation’s Planning Applications Sub Committee on December 8.

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