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High Court quashes Fitzrovia roof extension in rare decision

Max Neufeld objects to planning application for the next door building he designed

15 December, 2017 — By Richard Osley

Cyclone House

A PLANNING decision allowing a roof extension on a property in Fitzrovia has been quashed after a High Court challenge by its neighbour.

Consent given to developers working on Cyclone House at the corner of Whitfield Street has been withdrawn following the legal action.

It must also pay costs to Max Neufield, who designed the home and studio next door for himself and which is now a Grade II-listed building.

He has lived in Colville Place for more than 40 years and was a founding member of the Charlotte Street Association.

Mr Neufield argued that the council had not properly considered the harm the work could have on what is now considered a heritage building and filed for a judicial review.

The case is a rare example of a planning 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 Neufield’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, said the new extension would not harm Mr Neufield’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 Neufield told the Extra that he was worried the developers would keep going through the planning process until they got a scheme through.

Regeneration chief Cllr 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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