Proposal to convert the Grade I listed Custom House to a hotel refused on appeal

The Secretary of State (decision made by his Inspector, Paul Griffiths) has dismissed an appeal in respect of the City of London Corporation’s non-determination of applications for planning permission and listed building consent for the conversion of the Grade I listed Custom House to a hotel.

The Inspector reasoned that whilst the appeal proposals were the “optimum viable use” of the building and the scheme would bring forward many heritage benefits, it would have many harmful heritage impacts too – with the injurious effect on the plan-form devised by the original Custom House architect, David Laing, “the most telling factor”. On an “internal” heritage balance, the appeals fell to be dismissed. As regards the “external” heritage balance (balancing heritage harm against heritage benefits and any wider public benefits), the scheme would result in severe albeit not “substantial” harm to the significance of the Custom House. Whilst there were undoubtedly significant public benefits and the balance was a finer one (than when heritage harm and heritage benefit were weighed against each other in the “internal” heritage balance), the scales remained tipped against the appeal proposals.

The decision (dated 30 June 2022) can be found here.

Russell Harris QC acted for the appellants, Cannon Capital Developments Ltd and Global Grange Hotels Ltd.

Neil Cameron QC and Heather Sargent acted for the local planning authority, the City of London Corporation.

Matthew Henderson acted for the Rule 6 party, the Georgian Group.

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