Architect’s award-winning Clerkenwell block saved after inspector throws out council demolition order

Amin Taha outside 15 Clerkenwell Close. Picture: Polly Hancock

Amin Taha outside 15 Clerkenwell Close. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

An architect has won his long-running battle with Islington Council after a planning inspector overturned an order to demolish his award-winning block in Clerkenwell.

Amin Taha runs his firm, Groupwork + Amin Taha, out of the striking seven-storey stone structure called 15 Clerkenwell Close, and also lives in the penthouse with his family.

But since it was completed two years ago he has been locked in a battle with the town hall over whether the building matches the original designs. He always maintained it did, and that planners had simply lost the paperwork showing it.

Last year he was given a second enforcement notice ordering him to flatten the block, calling it "ugly" and saying it did not fit in with the Clerkenwell Green conservation area.

Amin appealed and yesterday the Planning Inspectorate ruled in his favour and granted planning permission for the "thoughtful building".

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"I'm obviously relieved it's over," Amin told the Gazette. "I'm glad we can move on now. It's been so absorbing in terms of time and information."

Last year the block won at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) London Awards and was the only UK entry in the final five of Dezeen's International Architecture Award for Housing.

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In its decision the inspectorate said although the design was controversial, it was of a "very high standard" and had won support of the architectural community.

It did say that Amin must shoulder a "significant degree of responsibility" for submitting "inconsistent plans" and said some aspects of the building varied from the original permission and must be modified.

Amin must also cough up £420,000 towards much-needed affordable housing in the borough and create more employment space in line with Islington's policy.

But the inspector concluded: "I consider that the overall planning balance falls in favour of the development."

An Islington Council spokesperson said: "We're of course disappointed the inspector did not agree with the council's view that the degree of harm the building caused to the Clerkenwell Green conservation area and the setting of nearby listed buildings warranted further modifications to the building.

"The council looks forward to the removal of the unauthorised and visually harmful solar chimney, changes to the roof garden, and alterations to the limestone columns and beams facing Clerkenwell Close, as set out in the inspector's conditions."

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