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RIBA award-winning Clerkenwell Close building saved from council’s demolition order

'This has been a long, stressful and unnecessary case'

16 August, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Architects Dominic Kacinskas, Alex Cotterill and Amin Taha, and office manager Elisa Lam outside the threatened building in Clerkenwell Close.

A RENOWNED architect has won a planning battle against the council after an award-winning building he designed and lived in was earmarked for demolition.

Amin Taha said he was “very pleased” after the planning inspectorate granted his appeal against a council demolition notice, but he added that it had been a “long, stressful and unnecessary” saga.

In his report planning inspector Peter Jarratt said that the design of Anita House in Clerkenwell Close was “controversial” but also of a “very high standard.”

He added that he gave “great weight” to the fact the building, which won a prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) award last year, had generated a “significant degree” of support from the public and the architectural community.

He concluded: “I consider that the overall planning balance falls in favour of the development and I intend to grant planning permission subject to conditions.”

Mr Taha’s plans for the six-storey building were granted permission in 2013 by the council.

But its distinctive stone facade proved controversial with some residents when it was revealed in 2017 and Islington council’s planning committee ruled that it did not match the designs that were originally granted permission.

A demolition notice was then slapped on the site which a dismayed Mr Taha received as he returned from the hospital with a new-born baby.

This notice was later deemed invalid and withdrawn before another one was issued last year.

Mr Taha said: “This has been a long, stressful and unnecessary case. We (the council and Mr Taha’s team) could have sat around the table and resolved this without spending potentially seven-figure sums on barristers and legal work.”

He added: “We’re obviously pleased with the decision and thank you to all who have supported us through this.”

As the Tribune previously reported, Mr Taha’s legal team locked horns with the council in July.

The planning inspector set conditions that will mean elements of the building will have to be altered to comply with the new planning permission.

An Islington Council spokesman said: “We’re of course disappointed that the inspector did not agree with the council’s view that the degree of harm the building caused to the Clerkenwell Green conservation area and the setting of nearby listed buildings warranted further modifications to the building.

“The council looks forward to the removal of the unauthorised and visually harmful solar chimney, changes to the roof garden, and alterations to the limestone columns and beams facing Clerkenwell Close, as set out in the Inspector’s conditions.

“We’re also pleased that there will be a £420,000 payment towards badly-needed affordable housing, in line with Islington’s planning policies.”

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