Alan Sugar rattles St Paul’s with Cheapside plans

Posted by: on 15th April 2013
St Paul’s and local residents are calling for Amsprop’s plans to refurbish the prominent development above St Paul's underground station to be rejected when they go before City planners on Friday. St Paul’s is urging a comprehensive redevelopment of the building, known as the Threepenny Bit, rather than the refurbishment Sugar is proposing, citing that current proposals encroach on the cathedrals protected views, lack detail and are of lower architectural quality than surrounding buildings. 

It also contends that Sugar’s property company Amsprop has not consulted the Cathedral on the plans. Amsprop submitted a planning application to the Corporation earlier this year for the refurbishment of the existing building, including facade recladding, internal alterations and partial changes of use to provide retail at part basement and part ground floor, as well as office space at part basement, part ground and over first to seventh floors. In a letter from the Cathedral to the City’s Department of the Built Environment the Chapter said that they “…would greatly prefer a redevelopment of this site which contrived to respect the St Paul’s heights and also made a positive contribution to the setting of the Cathedral and its highly significant environments. We would support the principle of a scheme that removed the blight of an unoccupied and poorly maintained office building and would also wish to see a scheme which made functional improvements to the pedestrian context at the busy crossing point and London Underground station entrance. “We submit that the proposals covered by the submission under consideration does not achieve these aims or other objectives the City would support and therefore should not be granted.   “The applicant has not provided sufficient evidence of the impact of this proposal on adjoining buildings and the Cathedral environs, and therefore they cannot reasonably claim to have appraised these vital matters to reasonable satisfaction. “We suspect that [the] incremental increase in floor plate encroaches on the St Paul’s Heights and should therefore be opposed. “We further feel that floor to ceiling office glazing will give a view of office interiors which will be unsightly from the Cathedral and Cathedral churchyard and will have a negative impact on visual amenity.

 “More generally, we do not feel that the application gives sufficient detail or rationale to invite confidence in the resulting development and that this will be of a comparable quality to the adjoining Paternoster square or indeed achieve the quality of architectural resolution of 1 New Change. “As the applicant identifies, there is a view from the cathedral down onto the office roof, which is seen by nearly two million visitors to the Cathedral. If not successfully resolved, the proposal will negatively impact on the visual amenity enjoyed within the conservation area. “There is no consideration of how the building meets the ground or the landscape generally in the area.” The comments were echoed by the four members of the public who have made official objections to Sugar’s plans. One said: “It seems mean to have to develop this small plot with yet another building that has no architectural distinction, is plain and somewhat trite.” Another added: “It cannot be right that we allow the presence of a world class building like St Paul’s to become a sort of architectural curse on its neighbourhood, guaranteeing mediocrity in all new developments. Let’s reject this and ask for a bit more imagination.” Despite the objections, City planning officer Peter Rees has recommended Sugar’s plans for 5 Cheapside for planning approval later this week. 

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