The Planning Officer's Report,
October 2001

5.3 The neighbouring tall office buildings between the Pier Head and the new development, provide an intervening townscape of a complementary scale and massing which, when viewed from the river, will serve to counterbalance the appearance of the tower block with the historic waterfront. The relationship to, and interface distances between the development and its immediate neighbours is considered appropriate and will not result in any undue overshadowing or loss of visual amenity.

6. Assessment of Treatment to Listed Buildings

6.1 It is considered that the requirement to part retain the listed cottages and incorporate them into the new development in the manner proposed represents an innovative way to ensure their survival and continued use. English Heritage have been instrumental in promoting a solution which can ensure that the buildings retain an echo of their original function and canal side setting. It should be noted that throughout the period when the cottages functioned as part of St Paul's Eye Hospital, much of the original internal and external fabric of the buildings was either destroyed or severely altered to meet the needs of the hospital. In contrast, the present proposal does recognise the intrinsic value of the buildings, and the compromise solution of part demolition and part retention achieves the following objectives:

The original buildings at 91/93 Old Hall Street are fully retained and the exterior returned to its original form using reclaimed slate and brick and the re-instatement of sash windows and exterior doors.

During renovation work, the line of the original canal basin is to be carefully exposed to allow for the opportunity to re-establish something of the buildings historic setting.

The new use of the buildings for A3 purposes in connection with the proposed hotel provides an innovative, practical and sensitive way to ensure a new lease of life.

The development will, perhaps for the first time, offer a suitable context to compare and contrast the commercial evolution of the City within a modern commercial setting.

6.2 The main entrances to each of the new buildings on Old Hall Street are approached across a pedestrian plaza. The retention of the existing listed cottages within the plaza setting has introduced further opportunity to create a sheltered public space in front of the hotel and apartment entrance. Extending the hotel bar facilities into the existing building with its transparent gable screen facing north will bring life to the space and further animate the street frontage. The revised scheme promoted by English Heritage offers an innovative way to physically and functionally integrate both new and existing buildings. English Heritage have stated that the loss of part of the listed buildings is outweighed by the regeneration potential of the whole scheme. The retained buildings, albeit in an altered form, provide a pragmatic and satisfactory solution.

6.3 The buildings will retain their own identity and will be given a more authentic historic setting. The colonnaded set back entrance to the hotel will allow pedestrians to circulate either side of the cottages. A glazed cantilevered canopy extending from the hotel, but not connected to the listed buildings will help dignify their appearance. On balance, it is considered that the loss of part of the listed buildings is justified by both the regeneration potential of the, whole scheme and by the innovative restoration package proposed for the retained buildings. It is felt that the revised scheme is in accordance with the spirit of PPG15 and UDP policy.

continued . . .

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