Outrage as Camden Tips Bedford Square Glass Extension for Approval

15th May 2021

Bloomsbury Conservation has been left in absolute disbelief as Camden have recommended approval for an all-glass conservatory on world-renowned Bedford Square, just weeks after refusing a simple lift nearby as causing ‘too much harm’ to the historic building.

Couple Lucy and Andrew had been waiting years to have their application for a lift at the rear of their Grade II terrace determined, but after being ‘confined to the basement’ for three years were told that their application would be refused due to it causing too much ‘harm’ to their terrace.

They are now appealing to the Planning Inspectorate, but will be forced to sell and move away if they lose their appeal.

Part of the officer report made the point that ‘lifts were not a common feature of Georgian terraces.’

But just weeks later Camden have decided that all-glass extensions are in fact common features of Georgian terraces, and have recommended one for approval at the world-renowned Bedford Square.

Camden’s planners defied detailed objections from ourselves and the Bloomsbury Association to claim that ‘no harm’ was done by the extension.

The ‘Grade I’ designation is saved for only the most historically and architecturally significant buildings and places in the country. Only a World Heritage Site carries more weight.

Accordingly, planning law and policy means that ‘harm’ can only be done to these heritage assets in ‘wholly exceptional’ circumstances.

But Camden’s planners have departed from heritage guidance, policy, our advice, and their own established precedent to simply claim that ‘no harm’ is done whatsoever to the Grade I listed terrace or its neighbours by the erection of an all-glass extension and partial demolition of the rear courtyard structures.

Demolished elements in red
The glass rear extension

The historic ground floor rear elevation would be totally obscured if approved.

During a Bloomsbury Conservation meeting it was joked that a formal objection hardly needed to be written, as the application was so outrageously inappropriate there was no chance that it would be approved.

But luckily the formal objection that was eventually written has saved the application from being privately approved by Camden’s officers due to the special weight attached to our objections.

It means the Members’ Briefing Panel, a committee of three cross-party councillors, will now meet to decide what to do with the application. There is a reasonable chance it will now be sent to the full planning committee for consideration, adding significant delays and opening the application up to refusal.

The Georgian Group have also been contacted to file an urgent objection.

A formal complaint has already been lodged with the request that the recommendation for approval is withdrawn, due to the judgment of ‘no harm’ as being ‘irrational’ and ‘irregular’.