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Page of consents: Sept 2nd

Jan-Carlos Kucharek

Periscopes up for a submarine training centre in Barrow, a crisp new academy in Manchester, and an expansion of London City Airport that will rob passengers of the whiff of kerosene

The emphasis is on regeneration for most projects on our consents page today – which is a good thing, isn’t it? Not if you’re author Iain Sinclair. In his book Ghost Milk, he lovingly recalls the fridge mountain landscape in Stratford, east London, before it became the Olympic Park, treating the very idea of regeneration with deep ambivalence. But this can feel reactionary and the reality is that cycles of destruction and construction characterise the history of any city. Perhaps we should be as circumspect about doing nothing as about gratuitous overdevelopment. Take a town like Barrow, for instance, where a new BAE Systems’ training facility aids long-term employment prospects. In the end, however, we must always ask ourselves, ‘is this better?’ For me, the unmediated experience of London City Airport was part of its charm. Simple and slightly dated, the smell of aircraft fuel greeting the visitor hearkened to travel’s glory days. The lack of that kerosene smack when its new terminal opens will remind us that for all that might be gained, there’s always something lost…


Client: Cooperative Academy

Architect: AHR

Total area: 5225m2

Planning authority: Manchester City Council

Planning ref: 112021/FO/2016/N1

In terms of Sir Peter Cook’s great ‘biscuit or blancmange’ debate, raised in his citation at the late Zaha Hadid’s Gold Medal ceremony, AHR has landed firmly on the side of ‘biscuit’ – and a crisp one at that. Sharp, 1m deep reveals of dark brick characterise the long elevational treatment of this £15M extension to the Cooperative Academy in Manchester. The reveal profile, which stretches the full height of the two-storey structure, acts as a unifying element for a building that will increase the school’s capacity from 900 to 1,500 pupils.



The design will create a new double-height student reception with additional 300-seat theatre, library, art studios, gym and climbing wall, all accessed directly off this. A student café, embedded in the theatre wall, will double up as a box office for the theatre after hours. Teaching zones have been isolated from this foyer space, with classrooms arranged around large, flexible learning zones.

Natural ventilation principles have been used on the facade to ensure good levels of fresh air and natural light in these teaching spaces.


Client: London City Airport

Architect: Pascall+Watson

Total area: 51,800m2 (terminal only)

Planning authority: Granted through DCLG on appeal

Planning ref: 13/01228/FUL (CADP1) and 13/01373/OUT (CADP2)

For those of you who crave the good old days of air travel, evoked in part by the slightly retro feel of London City Airport, look away now. Approved on appeal by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and DCLG Secretary Sajid Javid, the London City Airport Development Programme (CADP) can now push forward on a series of ‘landmark’ projects on the docklands site, including a large terminal extension, new passenger pier, baggage systems and aircraft parking stands. Included in Pascall +Watson’s masterplan is a new 260-bedroom hotel, parking, car rental and taxi facilities. There will also be an extended parallel taxi lane for the runway to improve its usage.


The expansion anticipates the predicted rise in passenger numbers to 6.5 million by 2025, taking advantage of the airport’s additional 32,000 flights per year. The press release states that the development will help to catalyse the regeneration of London’s Royal Docks through more than 2,000 new jobs in Newham, and it is expected to contribute £1.5bn a year to the national economy.

Pascall+Watson will be incorporating green technologies into the design, including large amounts of photovoltaic cells and combined CHP utilising daytime airport and nighttime hotel use, as well as dock source heat exchange systems making strategic use of the airport’s waterside location.


Client: Heeton Holdings

Architect: SimpsonHaugh and Partners

Total area: 9700m2

Planning authority: Leeds City Council

Planning ref: 16/02252/FU

It looks like it’s curtains – golden ones – for the old British Gas site to the north of Leeds city centre. Architect SimpsonHaugh has received permission to refurbish and convert a 1960s 12-storey office tower into a 182-bedroom hotel, the first stage of the proposed Bridge St Leeds mixed-use development on this one-hectare site. 


The most dramatic element of the design, a new double-height lower-level podium containing the hotel foyer, café/restaurant and bar and other front of house facilities, seems inspired by stage curtains. Its facade is a rippling screen of deep-profiled gold glazed terracotta wrapping around the base of the tower and fronting on to Bridge St. Highly visible from the ring road ‘it’s a thematic device in which the foyer is gradually revealed to the passer-by,’ explains SimpsonHaugh associate James Hind.

If the foyer is the curtain, then the bedroom block could be considered the fly tower. Clad in brushed aluminium panels, its overall visual effect is decidedly more back-stage however. But between the ‘brushing’ and the’ curtains’, they’re both analogies relating, the firm says, to the old woollen and textile industries of the city’s Mabgate area.


Client: Grosvenor

Architect: BuckleyGrayYeoman

Total area: 7,430m2

Planning authority: London Borough of Westminster

Planning ref: 16/03582/FULL

The trend towards creating more stimulating and bespoke environments for entrepreneurial start-ups, trailblazed by the likes of AHMM’s Tea Building and Selgas Cano’s Second Home, is reinforced by BuckleyGrayYeoman’s Eccleston Place in Victoria. This is a refurbishment of four buildings to provide co-working space and eateries clustered around a central courtyard. 


It’s intended that the office refurb will incorporate the character of the older buildings while at ground level new shopfronts will activate the streetscape. Linking Eccleston Place and Ebury Street will be a central landscaped courtyard which, the architects say, will increase permeability through the site and provide a flexible outdoor event space. Practice director Paul White says the development ‘draws on the surrounding Belgravia street pattern to create life and activity in a currently underused group of buildings’. We can only hope he’s right: the nearby Buckingham Palace Rd, a somewhat charmless artery connecting Victoria train station to Victoria coach station, has always felt like a relative walk of shame amid Belgravia’s moneyed excess.


Client: Portsoken investment

Architect: SPPARC

Total area: 37,160m2

Planning authority: City of London

Planning ref: 16/00209/FULMAJ

Helping to dispel that ‘edge condition’ quality of the City of London’s Minories area, which crosses the site of a Roman cemetery, is a new commercial development on Portsoken St, just north of Tower Gateway station, designed by slightly Imperial-sounding architect SPPARC.

‘The Butterfly’ will sit on the site of Lloyds Chambers, designed by Fitzroy Robinson in 1983 – a nine-storey curate’s egg of an office with polygonal glass-walled entrance atrium, as noted in Pevsner. But it’s away with the old in SPPARC’s curvy, 12-storey commercial and retail development, which will more than double the floor space while maintaining the general height of the original building. Designed with sustainability in mind, it will have external terraces at office levels and a roof garden.



The permission also covers enhancing the public realm at ground level by upgrading the pavements on Portsoken St and Goodmans Yard. This should work well for the 3250m2 of retail space to be introduced at ground level and below, ‘enlivening the building and surrounding neighbourhood’. The development is intended to begin when the current lease expires in 2018.


Client: BAE Systems

Architect: McBains Cooper

Area: 9,000m2

Planning authority: Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council

Planning ref: B12/2016/0389

If this one came in slightly under the radar, there’ll be a reason for that. The new submarine training facility at Barrow-in-Furness is part of the £300M ongoing investment in Barrow shipyard in Cumbria. It is intended to enable the potential building, testing and commissioning of the Successor programme, voted through by government in July this year – a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines that should enter service in 2028 to replace the Vanguard class.


McBains Cooper was commissioned to design a two-storey centralised training facility in the Buccleuth Docks area with craft workshops, cellular and open teaching areas, offices, canteen and reception, all accessed off a central rooflit ‘street’. The new building is intended to help develop a local ‘future pipeline of talent’, adding another 2,000 apprentices to the current 6,000 staff working out of Barrow, and ensuring the new submarine construction programme is furnished with the right technical skills.

There’s a simple palette of materials on this functional teaching box. Aluminium cladding panels, both flat and profiled, counterpoint the large glazed curtain walling of the teaching block. Most notable however, are the huge Corten steel hoops supporting the overhanging roof of the teaching and classroom areas, referencing, the designers say, the form and materiality of the submarines themselves. 



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