Plans to put up a 27-storey hotel on the site of a former arts venue at the gateway to Shoreditch are facing withering criticism from Historic England.
The new 343-room Drum hotel would replace what was once arts venue the Foundry on the corner of Old Street and Great Eastern Street, which has stood vacant since August 2018.
It is hoped the hotel will help sustain 834 full-time jobs in the area.
However, Historic England has criticised the design of the building, standing as it does on the frontier of the City, as harming Shoreditch’s architectural distinctiveness.
The government heritage body said: “The proposal would appear overbearing and domineering in the townscape, standing significantly taller than any other building in this part of South Shoreditch.
“The height, scale, drum form and appearance of the tower does not reflect the established appearance and grain of the conservation area.
“The height and scale of the proposed building borrows from the prevailing heights of existing and consented buildings around the Old Street Roundabout and the City Fringe.
“A major contributor to Shoreditch’s unique sense of place is the sharp contrast in scale between the lower scale buildings of the conservation area and those outside it on the City Fringe.
“A very tall building in this location would significantly alter this established relationship.”
The Shoreditch Conservation Area Advisory Committee also “strenuously objected” to the plans on the grounds that the Drum, which will be operated as a four-star Art’Otel, would “totally overpower the fine grain” of the area for which they are responsible.
Transport for London also raised concerns that the number of taxis and private hires which the Drum will attract would be “unacceptably high”, though cycle hire schemes have now been put in place since a previous iteration of the application, making the expected impact “on balance acceptable” to the transport body.
One of the conditions of the Drum’s construction would be the safe removal and relocation within Hackney of an on-site Banksy artwork.
It is not the first time the building, which dates back to the 1950s, has been set for demolition to make way for proposals for a multi-storey hotel, with owner-operators Jonathan and Tracey Moberly protesting similar plans in 2010.
A council planning report states: “The corner of Old Street/Great Eastern Street is the major gateway to the South Shoreditch district, and there is an opportunity for a prominent building to mark this important junction and space.
“The building formerly known as the Foundry is of no particular architectural merit. It is also not characteristic of the wider South Shoreditch Conservation Area, which is predominantly Victorian.
“The building has a Certificate of Immunity from listing, which means that Historic England do not consider it to meet the requirements for statutory listing and the building is not considered to meet the Council’s criteria for local listing.
“The site currently appears fragmented and detracts from the character and appearance of the conservation area and demolition will facilitate the wider regeneration of the site. There are therefore no objections to the building’s demolition.
“The significant change in scale of this tall building represents a significant departure from prevailing building heights and this is considered to cause some harm to the conservation area.
“This harm has increased marginally since the 2016 consent, by virtue of the height increase. However, the level of harm remains ‘less than substantial’.”
The decision on the Drum will be made by Hackney Council’s planning sub-committee on Wednesday 27 March.