Soho Councillor Pancho Lewis scored a victory for climate action this week, when plans for dramatic environmental improvements to a grade 2* listed building were approved by a Westminster Planning Committee.
Working on a cross party basis with Conservative Councillors and the Soho Society resident association, Cllr Lewis successfully argued that proposed changes to a Georgian building located at 13 Soho Sq should be voted through by Committee members, despite a recommendation for refusal by overly orthodox planning officers.
13 Soho Sq is now set to become the first Grade 2* listed building in the country to be awarded the top ‘Outstanding’ energy efficiency standing by BREEAM, the world’s most recognised method of assessing and certifying building sustainability. There will be a dramatic sixfold decrease in the amount of carbon emissions the building generates, from 53 tonnes of annual CO2 emissions to only 8 tonnes, and it is understood the building will be in the top 1% for energy efficiency standards in buildings in the country.
Officers had argued that the the application would undermine the building’s heritage. However, Committee members reached the conclusion any impact was insignificant at worst, with some arguing that the proposed changes would in fact improve the heritage aspects of 13 Soho Square.
Cllr Lewis said: “This was a success for common sense. We need to protect the historic character of old buildings whilst also making them far more energy efficient – that is what declaring a climate emergency and achieving carbon net zero necessitates. I am really pleased that we were all able to come together in the Soho community to make this happen.”