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Permission Has Been Refused for a Major Development on the Olympic Park Legacy Site on the Basis of Its Poor Design

Isabella Tafur

Planning permission has been refused for 343 homes (including 58% affordable) and commercial space in the Olympic regeneration site and Opportunity Area of Pudding Mill. The London Legacy Development Corporation refused permission for the scheme on the basis of its poor design. Following a 7 day inquiry, the Inspector has dismissed the Appellant’s appeal.

The scheme, designed by Hawkins Brown Architects, proposed 4 buildings between 6 and 18 storeys in Pudding Mill, between Stratford High Street and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The proposed density exceeded the upper London Plan density range by some 63%. The Inspector found that while density thresholds should not be applied mechanistically, this was indicative of over-development. In spite of some ambiguity between the Local Plan and the SPD, he found that the appeal site did not lie within the Local Centre where taller buildings may be appropriate. He rejected the argument that the tall buildings served as a gateway to mark the access to Stratford High Street. The intention of the Pudding Mill SPD was to create a new neighbourhood that was distinct from the metropolitan character of the High Street.

It was wholly unrealistic to expect detailed design features and variations in materials to distract from the overall height and scale of the buildings. The Inspector found that the presence of the mass above street level could not be overcome by architectural devices.

The public realm had been eroded through various design changes and the effect of the surrounding buildings on the public spaces was oppressive. Amenity spaces between the buildings would be largely overshadowed, which would substantially reduce their amenity value, and a significant proportion of the new units would experience unacceptably low levels of sunlight. 

Overall, the Inspector found that the scheme did not display the exemplary design required in light of its height and density. It was contrary to the development plan, and while the delivery of housing and affordable housing were significant benefits, they did not justify the grant of permission.

A copy of the decision can be found here.

Isabella Tafur, instructed by Pinsent Masons, acted for the London Legacy Development Corporation in resisting the appeal.