London Business School plan for Regent’s Park building causes controversy

Regent’s Park residents are at loggerheads with one of the world’s leading business schools which wants to expand its student numbers by more than 50 per cent.

The London Business School (LBS), on the perimeter of Regent’s Park, plans to build a large underground auditorium in front of its Grade I listed terrace while also demolishing and rebuilding another part of the site.

Westminster Council’s planning committee is expected to approve the application tonight (Thursday).

The scheme will create more than 12,000sq metres of educational floor space – a 45 per cent increase. The number of full-time students will increase from 1,000 to more than 1,500.

A number of interested parties including almost 50 residents have objected to the plans.

Regent’s Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee says the Sainsbury Building, designed by architect John Nash in 1822, should “be treated with more respect”. The Grade I listed building will not change its appearance but will have major excavation works nearby.

The Georgian Group has raised “serious concerns” about the “proposed contemporary design to the school’s entrance”.

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Residents object to “over-development” which they say will impact on their light, privacy, noise and parking availability.

A spokeswoman for the school, whose former students include Conservative MP and former shadow home secretary David Davis, said the development will ensure its long-term success “as one of the top ranked business school’s in the world”.

She said: “It’s our intention that the new development should minimise its impact upon the environment, while remaining sympathetic to its original character and surroundings.

“We have always striven to be a valuable part of the community where we live and work.

“During the planning application process, we have consulted and actively sought feedback from local interest groups, residents and businesses. We have listened to their views and incorporated changes wherever possible.”

Westminster planning officers have recommended the development is approved, but the report to the planning committee confirms “this is the last major development on this campus”.

The report says: “The proposed new buildings are considered to be of a high quality design that are sympathetic to the existing listed buildings and will enhance the wider conservation area and are sustainable.

“It is not considered that the proposed new buildings will harm the amenities of neighbouring residents, and the proposed servicing arrangements are now considered acceptable.”