From the 84 Eccleston Square Campaign Team:
Eccleston Square Residents Association (ESRA) has spearheaded a campaign to contest the proposed redevelopment of 84 Eccleston Square on aesthetic, conservation, environmental and social grounds. Supported by ward councillors Nickie Aiken and Jacqui Wilkinson they elicited 160 letters of objection to the proposal. A 5Fields survey showed overwhelming opposition to the project – see ’84 Eccleston Square demolition opposed by residents’ (June 2015). Numerous meetings and discussions took place during 2015, and the developers realized that their plans would not be granted planning consent by Westminster Council, with the level of objection that had been shown.
In early March of this year, members of the 84 Eccleston Square Campaign Team and our Councillors were invited to a meeting with the developers, at County Hall. We were told that the developers, Gravita Property, would be withdrawing their original planning application and were working on a new proposal to refurbish the building as office accommodation suitable for multiple occupancy by small and medium sized businesses.
Out of respect for community opinion, they would conserve the existing facade and floor levels. They would ‘review’ the front entrance, possibly because they hadn’t settled on a redesign at that stage. In addition they would extend each floor out over the enclosed courtyard area to the rear of the building in a terraced layout (not visible from the street), and replace the existing mansard roof with a two-level mansard. This would give them a usable seventh floor housing a canteen area.
The ESRA core team did not like the proposed mansard and the Chairman subsequently wrote to Gravita to express the campaign team’s concerns, which they thought would be shared by most residents. In particular, they did not like the appearance and massing of the proposed mansard, and the reduction of daylight, right to light and privacy, particularly as affecting residents of Sovereign Court.
The ESRA Committee agreed with the core team’s views that the proposed mansard roof would be too high, too far forward and the windows would be out of proportion to the floors below. Overall, it is not in keeping with the historic, listed nature of the square. The existing mansard does not draw attention to itself and the committee feels that its replacement should not do so either.
Belgrave Communications have taken over from Four Communications as the property developer’s communications consultants. The ESRA Campaign Team expects that Gravita will instruct their architects to prepare a more sympathetic design, and Belgrave are keen to hold a public consultation on Gravita’s plans in early June, so that they can be in a position to submit their planning application by the end of July.
It is important that residents attend the public consultation when it happens and express their views to the developers. We are told that it will be in the Doubletree Hotel adjacent to the Passport Office, as before. We are cautiously optimistic, but will remain vigilant and will keep everyone informed of any news.
84 Eccleston Square Campaign Team, ESRA
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Property: 84 Eccleston Square, London SW1V
Owner: Gravita Property Ltd
Developer: Mosaic Properties International Ltd.
PR/Lobby firm (new): Belgrave Communications.
Planning Consultants: DP9
Planning application documents: 15/04619/FULL