Below is the full text of the comments sent by the Charlotte Street Association to Camden Council’s planning officers in response to the planning application Ref 2011/1821/P 61-63 Tottenham Court Road & 1-7 Goodge St W1.
Whilst there are no objections to the proposed uses, there are strong objections to the overall approach to the proposed development particularly the loss of 1-3 Goodge St and generally the failure to respect the traditional plot module as well as to the proposed design.
1-3 Goodge St
Central to any development in this location is the need to retain and refurbish this building; it is the oldest in the street (mid 1760s), it retains many original features including panelling, fireplaces, shutters, door and window frames and has an unusual plan form. Yet no clear and convincing justification for loss of this heritage asset has been made as required by PPS5.
There has been no material change in circumstances since the Appeal decision of August 2007 in which the Inspector clearly set out the merits of the building (para 4), its relatively sound condition (paras 5 & 6) and the Inspector concluded that she did not consider that a financial case for the demolition of the building can be unequivocally demonstrated (para 6). None accompanies the current application.
Furthermore in para 8 the Inspector addresses the comprehensive development approach and its damaging consequences. The proposed retention of the facade does not meet the case for retaining the integrity of this locally important C18 building. In respect of the shop front which the applicants also seek to replace the Inspector said (para 4) “ The shop front and front door of the Appeal building are unique to this part of Goodge Street. The merits of the former being recognised in the Conservation Area Statement “.
It should be noted that the upper part of the shop front is currently disfigured by an unauthorised fascia which can easily be removed to reveal the original.
5-7 Goodge St
Clearly a sensitive development of this site void above ground floor level since 1944 is desirable. However, the proposed design does not meet the requirements for a building in the Conversation Area. It is totally out of character with the vertical strips of fretted glass and relates poorly to its neighbours. We are not advocating a pastiche but a well proportioned modern building using the traditional materials of brick and timber windows.
63 Tottenham Court Road
A material change since the 2007 Appeal is that this building has been identified in the 2008 Conservation Area audit as a positive contributor. Consequently any replacement building has to be of quality and merit to justify the loss of the existing. The proposed replacement building does not meet these criteria; on the contrary it is totally out of character with the Conservation Area whose character it would neither protect nor enhance. Its bulk and aggressive design is also detrimental to the setting of 1-3 Goodge St and 62 Tottenham Court Road, both identified as positive contributors in the Conservation Area audit.
The Inspector in the 2007 Appeal decision (para 12) said “at a point of such prominence the design needs to be of the highest quality”. The proposed building certainly fails this test.
Retail Unit 1-3 Goodge St/63 Tottenham Court Road.
There is also objection to the proposed amalgamation of these two retail units both on the grounds of preserving the integrity of 1-3 Goodge St and the need to retain small retail units in the Goodge St Neighbourhood Centre. The claim that the units are too small to be viable is not supported by the facts. For the last 50 years, to our certain knowledge, both retail units have been in continuous occupation by a number of users without any voids between occupants. They should be retained as separate units and be so conditioned.
For the foregoing reasons we urge the scheme be refused.
We would like our comments to be reported in full to Members and to be notified when the application is to be considered by Committee.