Track record

Panda House redevelopment, London

Interland Group

Provided planning strategy advice, planning application and appeal






Project value



Duncan Parr

Duncan Parr

The project

Rapleys were instructed by Interland Group (Wayview Limited) to provide a planning strategy advice, lead the design team and coordinate the submission of a planning application for the redevelopment of Panda House. This property is a red brick construction, in a square layout with central courtyard. The building is three-storeys high at the front facing Commercial Street, stepping down to two-storeys at the rear. The building is currently used as a hostel (Sui-Generis Use) comprising 52 bedrooms. Retrospective consent was granted in 2002 for a hostel to be occupied by homeless persons, although it is understood that more recently the building is used as a hostel to provide short-term accommodation for young, single workers. The site is located within the St Anne’s Conservation Area, and is also identified on the Council’s Proposals Map as being within the cross rail boundary. The site lies to the north of the Thames Policy Area and there are no further designations on the site

The application was submitted to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets seeking permission to create 109 rooms for short-term hostel and HMO accommodation. 31 hostel units were proposed and located within the lower ground and ground floors, with 78 HMO units proposed and located on the upper floors. Planning permission was first granted at the site in 2012 for the extension of the existing building upward to five-storeys, to increase the number of rooms within the hostel. This permission was not implemented and expired. Nevertheless, that permission established a principle of development for a larger building and number of rooms at the site. The application was later revised to: “Demolition of existing building and erection of a building of seven storeys, inclusive of two set back floors, plus a lower ground floor to provide 109 rooms for short-term hostel and HMO accommodation (amended description).” Despite extensive negotiations with the Council the application was refused at Planning Committee in March 2020.

The refused application was considered through a Public Enquiry Appeal. The main matters considered by the Planning Inspector were:

  • Whether there is a demonstrable need for the proposed development
  • Whether the proposal should make a financial contribution for off-site affordable housing (viability)
  • The effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the St Anne’s Church Conservation Area
  • The effect of the proposal on the living conditions of future occupants regarding amenity space, and daylight and sunlight.

The Planning Inspector reviewed the robust appeal case submitted by Rapleys which addressed the main matters. The Inspector concluded that the appeal should be allowed and granted planning permission.

Our solution

  • Rapleys robustly negotiated with Council Officers to try and minimise the areas of dispute
  • Rapleys appointed a robust team of consultants to respond to the Councils issues
  • The viability issues were dealt with expertise to overcome the Councils criticisms
  • Rapleys ensured the virtual online inquiry was managed effectively and efficiently.

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