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Architect slams ‘petty’ council after being told to demolish multi-award winning Clerkenwell block

PUBLISHED: 10:08 21 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:08 21 September 2018

Architects Dominic Kacinskas, Alex Cotterill and Amin Taha with office manager Elisa Lam outside 15 Clerkenwell Close. Picture: Polly Hancock

Architects Dominic Kacinskas, Alex Cotterill and Amin Taha with office manager Elisa Lam outside 15 Clerkenwell Close. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

An architect has slammed “petty” Islington planners who have again told him to demolish his multi-award winning block in Clerkenwell.

Amin Taha outside 15 Clerkenwell Close. Picture: Polly HancockAmin Taha outside 15 Clerkenwell Close. Picture: Polly Hancock

Amin Taha runs his firm, Groupwork + Amin Taha, out of the striking six-storey stone structure called 15 Clerkenwell Close, and also lives in the penthouse with his family. It was a winner in this year’s Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) London Awards and the only UK entry in the final five of Dezeen’s International Architecture Award for Housing.

But since it was completed last year he has been locked in a battle with the town hall over whether the finished building matches the one in sketches submitted five years ago. Essentially, the council says it doesn’t, and he argues it does. Initially, the council said the building was meant to be brick, not stone, and that it was too high. Planning committee chair Cllr Martin Klute – also an architect – labelled it “awful” and the Friends of Clerkenwell Green have also called for it to be flattened.

But Amin maintained planners had simply lost, and therefore not uploaded, the most recent designs.

The enforcement notice was withdrawn when the documents were discovered and the officers were left with “vast amounts of egg on their face”. Amin asked for an apology but instead got another enforcement notice calling the building “ugly” and not in fitting with the Clerkenwell Green conservation area.

15 Clerkenwell Close. Picture: Polly Hancock15 Clerkenwell Close. Picture: Polly Hancock

He told the Gazette: “I wrote to them saying can you apologise but they said: ‘No, we still think there’s something wrong’.

“So I asked to meet them, and it never occurred. Instead, we got another enforcement notice. It just looks petty.

“I’ve had no choice but to appeal, which is highly costly. At the end of which we have to claim all that back off the council if we win.”

An Islington Council spokesperson said: “After an investigation, the council has come to the view the building does not reflect the building that was granted planning permission and conservation area consent in 2013.”

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