50-57 High Holborn

highholborn2300x500Mixed-use redevelopment of three listed buildings in London's Bloomsbury conservation area.

Client: Blackfriars Property Group
Public inquiry: November 2008
Permission secured: July 2009

The project includes residential units (affordable housing and student accommodation) and 23,500 sq m of high quality office space.

The principal issues included

  • heritage – three Grade II listed buildings
  • design – scale and mass concerns
  • use – mixing commercial and residential uses

This under-used but prominent site needed a more design approach and greater density in order to be commercially viable.  We had to meet high renewable energy targets as well as a large Crossrail contribution.


The council's planning committee had decided to refuse our application on design grounds, but despite this we had no intention of giving up. Before the decision notice was issued we were able to persuade officers and council members to rethink by pointing out the consequences of their decision and showing how the scheme's impact could be successfully managed. When we re-presented our case to the same planning committee one month later, it was unanimously approved.


Through a holistic approach to design and end-use, we also achieved a cumulative reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of almost 30%.

We provided strategic planning advice, as well as coordinating the planning, listed building and conservation area consent applications and subsequent appeals. We also consulted with the client team and counsel, negotiated with the London Borough of Camden and represented the client at a public inquiry in November 2008.

The path to planning success is rarely smooth, but our persistence means that even when the chips are down we commit to getting the right result.