Carbon concerns dismissed by planning committee this morning

Woods Bagot’s controversial plan to build a 32-storey tower above the grade II*-listed Leadenhall Market has been approved.

The City of London Corporation voted 15-1 in favours of its planning officer’s recommendation to back the scheme, which has been drawn up for Mauritius-based developer Hertshten Group.

The project has come under attack from campaign groups for its proximity to the historic market and for the carbon impact of replacing the site’s existing 1930s building.

The Victorian Society said the plans are in conflict with the City of London’s newly adopted guidance on considering refurbishment over new build to reduce embodied carbon emissions. And Historic England said the proposals would result in “pronounced harm” to the historic environment.

But the City’s planning committee chair Shravan Jashvantrai Joshi said the whole life carbon and sustainability aspects of the plans “balance out”.

> Also read: Woods Bagot tower would contradict City’s new carbon guidance, heritage group says

“There are very clear policies in place on suitability for office, for residential, for various uses, so I don’t think there’s a policy question here on the use of this particular development,” he added.

“To my mind, that area… is in need of some TLC, and I think the activation on the lower floors of the building does in terms of fulfilling our destination city strategies, in terms of fulfilling our desire to draw in education through work…certainly satisfies a lot of those overarching city policies.”

Despite assurances from the scheme’s project team that the use of materials in the tower would minimise its carbon impact, councillor Susan Pearson raised concerns about the timing of the reduced emissions.

Highlighting a graph shown to the committee which suggested it would take 50 years before the new tower emitted less carbon than the existing building, she said: “I just think we really need to ask the question about what are we looking at and what are we asking for in terms of being a carbon neutral city?”

Under the City’s new rules, developers will be expected to carry out a detailed review of the carbon impact of development options before submitting an application.

The project team include surveyor Shaw Corporation, QS Turner & Townsend Alinea, multi-disciplinary firm Arup, M&E consultant Sweco, planning specialist DP9 and structural and geotechnical firm Robert Bird.