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North Street development: Committee refuses planning application for 16-storey tower block

PUBLISHED: 12:00 28 June 2019

North Street. Picture: John Hercock

North Street. Picture: John Hercock

Adriana Elgueta

A planning application to transform a "derelict" construction site into a 16 storey-high tower block was refused last night.

The strategic planning committee met on Thursday, June 28, to once again discuss the application for the proposed North Street development put forward by Regency Homes to provide 98 new homes as well as office, community, and retail spaces, 32 car parking spaces and cycle storage at the 23-55 North Street development in Romford.

The concrete structure stands between the site of the old Decathlon in Angel Way and North Street but has stood empty since work on a previous 16-storey scheme was halted in 2010.

The height of the previous planned building on the site was given the go-ahead by an inspectorate in 2006.

Referring to the designs presented, Councillor Joshua Chapman said: "In these images you can see the shadowing, so you can already see that it is going to plunge North Street into darkness.

"I still don't feel that this is a quality design, there is no attempt at symmetry with the surrounding area.

"I don't want Romford to suffer from a bad design for 100 years because it has been derelict for the past decade."

Councillor Reg Whitney said: "I am very concerned about this.

"This is a new building, it has got nothing to do with the old building whatsoever so why does this keep coming back?

"It doesn't matter what was said 13 years ago, this is a new planning application and the old one is dead and gone.

"Times have changed since the previous inspectorate said it was OK for a 16-storey building, we don't want tower blocks."

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Councillor Graham Williamson added: "Landmark buildings can be about architecture and beauty but buildings that are bigger in height are about money."

The application first appeared before the committee on January 10, 2019, when members deferred it so that designers could explore whether or not lower areas of the site could be raised in order to reduce the height of the highest towers - the committee also wanted to see more affordable housing provided on the site.

The plan was then deferred again at its second meeting on April 25, this time over a technical consideration regarding whether or not the site was located within the Romford Conservation Area.

Last month, the application was deferred for a third time once again due to concerns of the development being within the Romford Conservation Area which The Golden Lion pub, High Street, and the Parish Church of St Edward the Confessor, are part of, as well as the height of the building.

However, as an application for the Angel Way development next door, which will be 16-storeys, has already been approved, height could not be the stand alone reason for refusal.

It was noted that one of the councillors' main reasons for refusing the proposal was "design-led".

Following the previous deferral, the applicant changed parts of the design, including new pillars to divide the unit frontages and less metal cladding and more brickwork to fit in with the surrounding area but the changes were not positively received by all of the committee members.

Cllr Chapman said: "In my mind, adding a bit more brick does not make this building fit in with the rest of the area.

"With that in mind, is this building of a high enough quality for our local area?"

Councillor Timothy Ryan said: "I think we need to go back to where we had the last meeting, we were saying the heritage of Romford is something we have to treasure.

"If you look at the [St Edward the Confessor] church, it is a wonderful thing we have and if we put this at the front of Romford, we will hide this site.

"Romford is a great historical area and this building is not going to enhance it."

Following refusal, the applicant will now decide whether to appeal the committee's decision.

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