If you have concerns about a planning application being put in that affects your neighbourhood, you can contact us and we will most likely be able to put in an objection and offer advice for your own objection.
Our objections are very strongly weighted by Camden's planners, as they automatically escalate an application's status through Camden's constitution. We often see applications radically altered or entirely refused on the basis of our advice.
We can technically only put in objections on the basis of harm to heritage. However most often an application which is harmful to residential life is also harmful to the heritage of the area in some way, meaning that we can usually put in an objection.
We also work with other groups which will be able to put in an objection on your behalf for non-heritage related matters.
If the application qualifies for an objection, we will communicate with you to further clarify the problems, and we may offer a visit to your property and area to get a better idea of the situation.
Due to our status as being set up by and associated with Camden, our objections are automatically escalated to the Members Briefing Panel, which is the stage between Delegated Powers (default) and Planning Committee (highest level).
Our objections are most effective for small and medium size applications. If you are concerned about a large development near you, we will almost certainly have already heard about it and be working on it. It is useful for us to be able to work with local residents when opposing such developments when appropriate, so please contact us if you wish to help us campaign.
Large applications often come with a very sizeable payment to the local authority if approved (which is one of the reasons for their approval), which are ring-fenced for the local area. We suggest ways for these payments to be spent, and encourage residents to contact us with any ideas that they have.
You can contact us for such enquiries by emailing [email protected].
We were contacted by residents living in Ormonde Mansions, a mansion block on Southampton Row. This mansion block faced onto a lightwell shared by multiple properties along Southampton Row and the road to the east, Old Gloucester Street. Ormonde Mansions neighboured the Grade II listed Bonnington Hotel, now branded as 'Doubletree by Hilton'.
Hilton had recently completed works to construct a small extension in the shared lightwell. This construction had dragged on beyond expected timescales and contractors had been caught violating permitted working hours. The construction site was only metres from the windows of Ormonde Mansions.
Almost immediately after completing the works, Hilton had put in another application to extend the new extension even further.
At this point we were asked by the residents of Ormonde Mansions to put in an objection.
We assessed the planning application and found that the applicant had failed to fulfil certain policies of the National Planning Policy Framework which all applications in the UK must adhere to. Specifically, the applicant had failed to make a proper assessment of the historic environment. They had correctly identified the Grade II listed hotel as part of the historic environment, but incorrectly claimed that there were no further heritage assets to be considered. This was on the basis that although within the Bloomsbury Conservation Area, the development site could not be seen from the public realm, an incorrect assertion. The applicant also failed to identify Ormonde Mansions and neighbouring Georgian terraces as heritage assets.
The applicant then failed to assess the effects that the application would have upon the historic environment, which is an exercise required by all applications.
We then visited Ormonde Mansions and talked with residents there, examining the proposed development site. We were told that the situation had become so frustrating that they were even considering simply giving up and moving away from London.
We put in our objection on the basis of the mentioned failures in the application, and referred the application to Bloomsbury Residents' Action Group for further objections to be made on the basis of residential amenity.
The application was swiftly refused only a matter of days after the deadline for comments passed.
Some months later we were again contacted by residents of Ormonde Mansions, concerned about an application being put in by the owner of a Georgian terrace property on the other side of the lightwell, on Old Gloucester Street.
The owner was known to encourage antisocial behaviour by letting out their property on AirBnb, with a party being held during the early weeks of the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown. They had also kept the Grade II listed property in a very poor state of repair.
The application proposed the construction of a rooftop extension and rooftop courtyard. The courtyard would have impacted upon residential amenity, and it was feared this courtyard would be used for parties on AirBnb.
The application had already been approved some years earlier, and the applicant wished to make a new application to vary some details, and extend the property even further into their small rear garden space.
We made an assessment of the application and after investigation found that the applicant had put in their application exactly three years after their initial application. Further investigation revealed that the initial application had expired as construction work had not begun, corroborated by the residents of Ormonde Mansions. This meant that the initial application was void, and an entirely new application was required.
We made an assessment of the new application and found that it had again failed to make a proper assessment of the historic environment. It had identified the terrace as being a heritage asset, but had failed to even mention the Bloomsbury Conservation Area, a heritage asset of the highest significance. The application also falsely claimed that the changes to the property would not be visible from neighbouring properties, but this was proven false by evidence given by the residents of Ormonde Mansions.
The rooftop extension would also have caused harm to the roofscape of the terrace, contrary to a statement in Camden's Bloomsbury Conservation Area Management Plan which states that Camden will preserve the interesting roofscape elements in the conservation area.
We brought this together in an objection and Bloomsbury Residents' Action Group again made an objection.
The application was again swiftly refused.