Councillors consider application for new Drum building. Photograph: Hackney Citizen.

Building work on the Drum, a contentious 27-storey hotel in Shoreditch, is set to begin within the next couple of weeks.

The new 343-room Art’Otel was accepted in place of a previously approved tower that would have been eight metres shorter.

Historic England had criticised the design of the building, standing on the frontier of the City, as harming Shoreditch’s architectural distinctiveness.

But council officers at a recent planning committee meeting said the harm caused by the tower was outweighed by the potential benefits.

Boris Ivesha, president and CEO of PPHE Hotel Group, said: “We are ready to start within a couple of weeks within the application being approved. The 25 extra rooms and additional office space make the difference.

“We previously had partners who were not too keen to build the hotel. We decided to buy them out, and are now in full control of the site and want to proceed as quickly as possible.

“The public realm will have new surfaces, new seating and public art, while avoiding any conflict with the cycle superhighway. Our commitment remains that the Banksy on site will be kept safe.”

The Drum will replace the Foundry, which was an arts venue co-founded by Bill Drummond of electronic band The KLF with owner-operators Jonathan and Tracey Moberly, who raised protests at similar plans in 2010.

A representative of architects Squire & Partners said: “The design is similar to the already-consented planning permission.

“This notion we had of a series of cog wheels [for the design of the building] comes from our influence of the culture of the site.

“We know there are lots of start-ups and tech companies here, and Silicon Roundabout is a term used for this area of London, and our inspiration was looking back historically at how computers involved.

“Rather than a simple chip, mechanical computers were a series of cog wheels, and this is what this cylinder is representing, influenced by the culture of this area.”

Squire & Partners’ design ambitions were not shared by all at the meeting, however, with some residents online already nicknaming the building ‘The Toilet Roll’.

Cllr Clare Joseph (Lab, Victoria), who was the sole councillor on the committee to vote against the scheme, said: “I don’t know how you could look at that and fail to think that it’s extremely out of context with what’s around it.

“My concern is that area of Old Street doesn’t have these huge buildings, and I’m concerned that this is going to set a precedent for other huge tall buildings.

“The density and height of it is, I think, going to have an impact. There are lots of estates round there, and such a vast dark building sucking in light – are we going to have lots of these down that end now?”

A council officer responded: “I understand the concerns that this building will open the door to others. However, just because a building is tall doesn’t mean it’s unacceptable, and it has been through a thorough assessment to understand its acceptability.

“That assessment will be undertaken on every other application going forward. Work has gone in to make sure it reflects the conservation area.

“We’re not saying that there is no harm here, but that there is ‘less than substantial’ harm, and policy allows that to be balanced out with the benefits.”

Planning committee chair Cllr Vincent Stops (Lab, Hackney Central) said the location of the building made it a “bit special”, and that there are not many sites like that within the conservation area, which was part of the justification.

Referring to the previously accepted plans for buildings on the site, Cllr Stops added: “It was a bit dumpy before, like a dustbin. Now it looks like a stick of rock. The design officer thought there was some benefit there.”

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