'My flat is being surrounded by skyscrapers and I'll have to move out when the next one is built'

Will Ryan in his London flat
-Credit: (Image: LDRS)

A Central London resident said he is at risk of being boxed in by skyscrapers due to be built within spitting distance of his flat. Will Ryan, 39, said he and his partner may need to rent a second home during the construction phase of a particularly close development, with the resulting noise and dust expected to make the property unliveable.

Mr Ryan bought his flat by Leadenhall Market 10 years ago. At that stage, he said there was very little in terms of large office blocks, with even the Walkie-Talkie yet to be built. The fact he was living so close to the market, and was located within an established Conservation Area, made him think he would be relatively safe from overbearing projects.

Since then, a number of applications have been approved by the City of London Corporation which Mr Ryan said would block significant amounts of light from his flat, as well as prove highly disruptive during construction. Of particular concern are 85 Gracechurch Street, a 32-storey development which would sit right next to the north side of Mr Ryan’s flat, and the 33-storey 70 Gracechurch Street scheme, due to be built to its south.

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Construction has yet to start on either, though both are expected within the next few years. Mr Ryan, who is a programmer, said he and his partner work from home, which would be impossible while the towers are being built. “It will feel like I’m part of it, because we are on the site,” he said. “You are just living in this dust pit for years and years and years.”

Mr Ryan showed the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) where the new towers are due to be built, and the likely impact on his home. Currently full of light, Mr Ryan said the buildings would signficantly affect the property, with additional knock-on effects if he wished to sell.

Will Ryan said the 85 Gracechurch Street development, just to the north of his flat, will pose particular issues
Will Ryan said the 85 Gracechurch Street development, just to the north of his flat, will pose particular issues -Credit:LDRS

Having bought the property for around £690,000 ten years ago, Mr Ryan said he estimates it would be worth roughly £900,000 without the towers. With the developments planned, however, he said he fears it could be down about 10-20 per cent.

Mr Ryan’s concerns are partly reflected in the reports on both schemes prepared for the City of London when they were going through planning. In the report on 85 Gracechurch Street, it is noted homes including Mr Ryan’s would suffer a ‘Major Adverse (significant) impact’ regarding noise and vibration during demolition and construction. It adds potential negative health impacts would be mitigated by actions such as employing a Dust Management Plan, and a Construction Environmental Management Plan.

For 70 Gracechurch Street, on which the objections primarily revolved around daylight, it was found the scheme would have a ‘Minor Adverse’ impact on the homes in Mr Ryan’s block.

A mock-up of the plans for the 32-storey tower at 85 Gracechurch Street
A mock-up of the plans for the 32-storey tower at 85 Gracechurch Street -Credit:City of London

Mr Ryan said despite his concerns about both towers, his gripe is not with the developers. He said: "It’s more against the City of London, where it doesn’t feel like you are being listened to."

Mr Ryan told the LDRS when he and other residents spoke at the Planning and Transportation Committee meeting last year, at which 85 Gracechurch Street was approved, he felt as if the decision was already a foregone conclusion, with very little locals could say to affect the situation.

'Life can be made an absolute misery for local residents'

“I feel there is an imbalance where commercial interests completely overshadow residents' concerns, relegating them to a secondary consideration. It also appears that developers and planners in the City of London maintain a relationship which is too close for impartial decision-making,” he said.

“It's crucial for the planning committee to empathise with residents when they sign off extensive construction projects which in many cases can last for several years and can make life for local residents an absolute misery and render their properties uninhabitable.”

Mr Ryan said it is a ‘shame’ the way the situation has developed. “I love living in the City, and I love my home.” Regardless, if the two schemes go ahead as planned, in particular 85 Gracechurch Street, he may be forced to move elsewhere while construction is ongoing. I’m a programmer,” he said. “I can’t deal with constant banging while I’m working.”

Asked what mitigation measures will be in-place to reduce the impacts on residents, neither Tenacity, the developer behind 70 Gracechurch Street, or Hertshten, for 85 Gracechurch Street, responded. The City of London Corporation also declined to comment.

An Evening Standard investigation at the end of March revealed how 26 towers 75 metres or more were either under construction, with consent or likely to be approved in the Square Mile. Both 70 and 85 Gracechurch Street were identified in the paper's research.

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