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In ever more densely packed urban areas, hardly any development can take place without treading on someone's toes. The point was illustrated by one High Court case in which a recording studio complained that a demolition and flat-building project next door would put its business in jeopardy.
The local authority had granted planning consent for the demolition of a large office building in Central London and its replacement by a restaurant and flats. The studio, which has a worldwide reputation for creating sounds used in films, television and radio advertising, complained that ground vibrations caused by the works were bound to impact on the absolute silence it requires for its work.
In rejecting the studio's challenge to the consent, however, the Court noted that an environmental management plan was in place, requiring the developers to minimise vibrations during the project. The council had struck the right balance and its decision could not be characterised as irrational.
The studio had also pointed to concerns about the creeping 'residentialisation' of the area at the expense of office space. In announcing a policy shift prior to the permission being granted, the council's deputy leader had stated that the balance had tipped too far in favour of residential conversions in one of the world's most important business districts and that serious harm was being caused to the area's character.
However, the Court noted that the change in policy had not actually taken effect until after the consent was granted. The council was entitled to take the view that there was no economic case for the retention of the office block.