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Camden Council quashes its own planning decision after High Court challenge

18 December, 2017 — By Richard Osley

How the block would look if it gets planning consent (for a second time)

CAMDEN Council has quashed its own planning decision to allow a roof extension on a property in Fitzrovia after a High Court challenge by a neighbour.

The Town Hall came to an out-of-court settlement which cancels consent given to developers working on Cyclone House, at the corner of Whitfield Street. It must also pay costs to Max Neufeld, who design­ed the home and studio next door.

A founding member of the Charlotte Street Association, Mr Neufeld has lived in Colville Place, now a grade II-listed building, for more than 40 years. Mr Neufeld argued that the council had not properly considered the harm the work could have on what is now considered a heritage building.

He filed for a judicial review. The case is a rare example of a planning approval decision being successfully challenged after building consent has been granted, and with a member of the public taking on the daunting risk of legal costs. Historic England’s listing said Mr Neufeld’s property is “immaculately detailed” and “a rare example of a modernist infill scheme of sophistication and careful taste”.

The application for the roof development and other alterations next door will now have to go through Camden’s planning process again for approval – or rejection. Developers say their proposals will “improve the appearance” of the area.

Stagg Architects, who worked on the designs, maintained the new extension would not harm Mr Neufeld’s property because it would be “set back” and “careful consideration” had been given to the choice of materials. The Twentieth Century Society, Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association and Bloomsbury Conservation Area Advisory Committee were, however, all among objectors when the plans were first submitted to the council in November 2016. The council offered “no defence” when the case was due to reach the Royal Courts of Justice.

Mr Neufeld told the New Journal that he was worried the developers would keep going through the planning process until they got the extension through. Regeneration chief Councillor Danny Beales said: “While the council considers that it made a lawful decision, we recognise there could have been more detail in the report.”

He added: “Therefore we ‘submitted to judgment’. This is a simple legal process which allows the courts to quash the decision so the case can be reconsidered by our planning committee. “The council had no wish to waste public money battling a long-standing resident in court when a less costly and time-consuming course of action was available.”

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