The millionaire owner of Ambassador House has finally unveiled plans to convert six floors of the empty office block in to 66 one and two bedroom units.
The application submitted on April 3 by Sajid Bashir, of Copperstones Ltd, is under permitted development rights which is a government scheme allowing certain types of change of use such as B1 to C3 (from offices to dwellings) to be carried out without applying for planning permission.
This is meant to make the planning process simpler and more straightforward but also makes it virtually impossible for the council to legally refuse.
However, the property developer won’t be able to convert two of the floors as easily as they are D1 use, so classified as community use, which is afforded “protected” status -. meaning the applicant is unable to change the use of the property without a full planning application being made.The letter fron Mr Bashir’s planning consultant, Jon Murch, sets the council a 56 day deadline from the date of receipt of the application to confirm the case.
The mix of accommodation would provide 48 one bed and 18 two bed units with anticipated occupancy for 150 people.In recent months workmen have been stripping back the interior of the building and broken windows have been
patched up with artwork left behind by squatters who were evicted from the 1960s building last year.
The housing is described as units rather than apartments so its unclear who they are intended for but they will be for the rental market not for sale.
Network Rail holds the freehold for the site and The Chronicle understands there is a condition on the lease which would prohibit Mr Bashir from carving up the building for sale as individual properties.
The drawings show two bedroom ‘units’ for three people with two toilets with a floor space of 66.8sqm. The average one bedroom for two people has a floorspace of 50.17sqm.
There is a minimum government space standard for new homes which is 50sqm metres for two person one bedroom flat and 61sqm for a three person two bed.
In a letter from Mr Murch of Davies Murch, acting for Copperstones Ltd, he writes: “Whilst the quantum of proposed homes is not a matter for consideration as part of this application, it is nevertheless provided for completeness ..”
Mr Murch goes on to state:“The scheme can be implemented with no changes to the exterior of the building. However, it is the applicant’s intention that a planning application will be submitted in due course to improve the exterior of the building.”
The application is for change of use and conversion of the second, third, fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth floors within Ambassador House from Class B1to C3.
These floors are unused and were previously used as offices until they were vacated years ago. The remaining floors: fourth and seventh, are also vacant but are D1 use. The first floor was used as a crèche for the benefit of the occupiers of the building as recent as 2000.
The application also includes the provision of associated on-site parking on the lower ground floor, and refuse and cycle storage.
The residential accommodation will be able to utilise the 54 car parking spaces associated with the previous office building.
The Chronicle reported last year that Mr Bashir had avoided paying almost £300,000 in business rates because of a legal loophole. Ambassador House was sold at auction in October 2012 due to liquidation. Mr Bashir acquired the balance of the 120 year lease from December 1967.
Mr Bashir is the CEO of Copperstones, which an upmarket estate agents which says on its web site it has offices in Marleybone, Mayfair and Lahore. His company Red Wing, which is based offshore, had the squatters evicted.
Mr Bashir is pictured with friend the Pakistani Prime Minster Imran Khan.