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Jamie finds block expansion plans hard to digest

Celebrity chef says adding extra storeys to building will impact on his office’s privacy and film work

17 July, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

Jamie Oliver

CELEBRITY chef Jamie Oliver has objected to the expansion of a housing block near his offices.

The Naked Chef raised concerns that plans to add two more storeys to a building in Benwell Road, Holloway, would have an impact on privacy.

But councillors gave the green light to the project at a planning meeting on Tuesday evening, allowing developers to work on six new homes in a block close to the Emirates Stadium.

Rob Harrington, the facilities manager at Jamie Oliver’s HQ, had told the meeting that the chef’s company had eight years left on its lease and had “a long-held interest in the building and area”, adding the size and shape of the new block would impact on filming and photography work, which relies on the natural light.

“There has been little consideration by officers regarding the short-term and long-term impact the development will have on the existing businesses operating in and around the site,” he said.

The block in Benwell Road

“The proposal will impact our business greatly through the construction phase and subsequently if the development is approved. A key driver for us moving to the area in 2017 was the fantastic space with its privacy and natural light the building offered.”

He added: “This will not only commercially hit our capacity to work effectively but it will also impact Jamie and our staff’s privacy, which as you can imagine is not something Jamie has much of outside of his home and workspace.”

Islington’s planning officers, however, confirmed the planned new structure was in line with minimum distance rules from Mr Oliver’s offices.

A further objection was also submitted by Bea Buck, operations manager of independent production company October Films, which has five studios in Benwell House.

She noted the construction would have an impact on the studio’s sound recording and voiceover work. But councillors said they found no grounds to reject the application, but agreed to push for stronger measures to protect independent businesses in the area.

Committee chairwoman Councillor Jenny Kay told the meeting – held over videocall technology: “I think that all of us want to protect independent business in the area especially at a time like this, but we know that construction noise and nuisance isn’t something that can stop development.”

She added “I would like to see some stronger measures in the construction management plan and make sure the applicant is aware if they make life overly difficult the council won’t hesitate to get involved.”

It was agreed that a condition of approving the planning permission should be that construction noise should be paused while recordings were being carried out at October Films.

Speaking for the applicant, Clearwell Creek Properties Ltd, Greg Dowden said the developers had worked “very hard” with adjoining occupants to make sure they had the best possible scheme.

“We’re very aware there are sensitive economic uses adjoining the site,” he said. “I’m not saying there won’t be some impact on those uses. We will work exceptionally, however, with our construction management plan to minimise those impacts. ”

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