No 301 Cambridge Heath Road is a listed, grade II, 18th century house located within the Bethnal Green Gardens Conservation Area of London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Our client wished to apply for a single storey rear extension, replacing the existing closet wing, in order to increase the retail and storage area of the shop, including repairs and upgrade. Fuller Long were instructed to aid the granting of Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent in order to carry out these works.

The history of the property is particularly interesting as its physical development took place in the late 17th century. The house was most probably built for a merchant’s or trader’s family, with the ground floor used as a shop and upper floors as residential. Planning history shows multiple changes to the use of the ground floor. Alterations over the years had left little historic detail internally. However, the property had still retained some of its special interest, mainly its historical value.

The property also had presence in the lives of the local community since late 17th century and contributed to the historic townscape. The building was an example of a modest dwelling house representing the way in which past people lived, in the context of urban expansion of that time. It is thought that from the early days the building was used partly as a shop with upper floors occupied by the shop owner.

Section 66(1) of the Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act of 1990 requires decision makers to “have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses” when determining applications which affect a listed building or its setting. Section 72(1) of the Act also requires decision makers with respect to any buildings or other land in a conservation area to pay “special attention… to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of that area.”

Specific importance is placed in the Listed Buildings and on having special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possess. In relation to this, Fuller Long argued that the proposed works to the property would have an overall minor if not beneficial impact upon the significance of this heritage asset, and on the character and appearance of the Bethnal Green Gardens Conservation Area. This therefore complied with Section 7.2 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

Furthermore, The NPPF states that “significance derives not only from a heritage asset’s physical presence, but also from its setting.” It defines “setting of a heritage asset “as “The surroundings in which a heritage asset is experienced.” Its extent is not fixed and may change as the asset and its surroundings evolve. Elements of a setting may make a positive or negative contribution to the significance of an asset, may affect the ability to appreciate that significance, or may be neutral.

Key impacts to the building included the construction of a single storey rear extension, which would replace the existing one, which had been determined by Fuller Long to be of low significance. The proposed extension had been carefully designed to cause minimal harm to the historic fabric of the building.  Fuller Long saw that the works were considered to cause minor impact, which would be overall, beneficial. Therefore, it was considered that although the proposals would generate some impact upon the special interest of the building and the Conservation Area, overall, it would be less than substantial, with benefits such as a complete upgrade of the property to meet 21st century requirements.

An impact assessment had been undertaken as part of the overall assessment of the proposals for this application and any ‘harm’ versus beneficial impacts were evaluated to assess the overall impact which concluded to be less than significant, and minor and beneficial.

Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent were granted and works on the property were able to commence.