Westminster City Council has successfully resisted a judicial review of their decision to grant planning permission for the redevelopment of Marlborough House in central London from office to mainly residential space. The application involves the demolition of the existing buildings and redevelopment behind retained facades to comprise a new building at basement, ground and first to seventh floors.

The claimant, Grand Central Sound Studios operates 8 sound recording studios in a neighbouring building. Three studios are located at basement level, three at ground floor and two on the seventh floor.

The claimant had objected to the proposal throughout the application process due to concern about ground-borne vibration which they asserted would bypass sound insulation in their studios and therefore have a detrimental effect on their business operations.

Planning permission was granted on 8 March 2016, 10 days prior to Westminster City Council’s announcement about their change of approach to applications from office to residential to redress the balance between the two which had tipped too far in favour of residential.

The claim was brought on four grounds all of which were dismissed.

The claimant had argued that the defendant took an unreasonable approach to the application given that the Council soon after announced a shift in policy position; acted on no or insufficient evidence in relation to ground-borne vibration; failed to have proper regard to the interpretation of its Policy Com8 (relating to light industrial class use) and that the defendant had erred in failing to impose a planning condition in relation to vibration from underground trains.

Saira Kabir Sheikh QC acted for Westminster City Council.

A copy of the judgment is available here.