Planners recommend 32-storey plan despite Historic England objection

Proposals for a 32-storey office tower in the City of London are being recommended for approval despite opposition from government heritage adviser Historic England and an acknowledged conflict with local planning policies.

Woods Bagot’s plan for 85 Gracechurch Street would deliver 35,000 sq m of new office space, as well as new food and drink space, a public hall and a fifth-floor “heritage garden” leading to a walkway with new views over neighbouring Leadenhall Market.

The proposals, which were drawn up for developer Hertshten Group, would retain the façade of the current 1930s building at 85 Gracechurch Street for its podium.


Woods Bagot’s proposals for 85 Gracechurch Street

But Historic England opposes the scheme because of its impact on grade II*-listed Leadenhall Market, the wider Leadenhall Market Conservation Area, and the nearby Church of St Michael at Cornhill, which is grade I-listed.

The heritage adviser said building out Woods Bagot’s plans would result in “pronounced harm” to the historic environment.

Historic England also flagged that although 85 Gracechurch Street is within the City of London’s Eastern Tall Buildings Cluster – which contains RSHP’s 122 Leadenhall Street and PLP’s 22 Bishopsgate, its location within a conservation area should trump that status under local planning policy.

However, recommending the scheme for approval, City planning officers said Woods Bagot’s proposals were “a high-quality design” and included “a number of attractive features”, such as greening and vehicle lifts that integrate into the landscaping.

“The proposal would comprise architecture of the highest quality, with outstanding sustainability credentials, be attractive and contextual at numerous scales and would, in the form of the proposed public hall at ground floor level, deliver a landmark new civic space,” they said.

85 Gracechurch St

The tower is one of a number planned for Gracechurch Street

Woods Bagot is targeting a BREEAM “outstanding” sustainability rating for the building.

The project team include surveyor Shaw Corporation, QS Turner & Townsend Alinea, multi-disciplinary firm Arup, M&E consultant Sweco, planning specialist DP9 and structural and geotechnical firm Robert Bird. A decision is due next Monday.

As well as 85 Gracechurch Street, two more towers are planned nearby at 55 Gracechurch Street, designed by Fletcher Priest, and KPF’s 70 Gracechurch Street.

A Stanhope team is developing the latter while Hong Kong firm Tenacity is behind 55 Gracechurch Street.