Arts group refuses to remove ‘beach hut’ on top of Haggerston building – builds more structures instead

The view of 53-55 Laburnum Street from the other side of the Regent's Canal. Picture: Polly Hancock.

The view of 53-55 Laburnum Street from the other side of the Regent's Canal. Picture: Polly Hancock. - Credit: Polly Hancock.

A “beach house” is still standing on top of a 19th century industrial building in the Regent’s Canal conservation area, despite orders to remove it over two years ago.

The view of 53-55 Laburnum Street from the other side of the Regent's Canal. Picture: Polly Hancock.

The view of 53-55 Laburnum Street from the other side of the Regent's Canal. Picture: Polly Hancock. - Credit: Polly Hancock.

Planning Inspectorate Nigel Burrows deemed the corrogated iron shed on top of the Hoxton Docks artists' studio in Laburnum Street an "incongruous roof-top appendage" in March 2017.

Since then three more structures have been built on the roof as part of the Antepavilion architecture competition, which offers a £3,000 prize. They include another hut, a three-storey yellow stage and a massive silver air-vent.

In 2016 council officers claimed the "beach hut" was accommodation, not art, and ordered it to be demolished as it didn't have planning permission. When Shiva Ltd appealed, Mr Burrows found the structure harmed the conservation area and the character of Columbia Wharf and Brunswick Wharf, sited next to the Grade II listed Haggerston Baths, and said it must go within three months.

The council could not explain why no action has yet been taken, and said its planning enforcement team is now investigating the other three structures.


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Shiva's Russell Gray told the Gazette they were "temporary", although the Antepavilion guidelines state they remain in situ for two years.

The council denied the beach hut complies with permitted development rights for temporary use of land, because it is neither demountable nor movable and is therefore subject to planning control.

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A spokesperson said: "The original structure has not been removed and the council is considering its legal options with regard to its removal."

The venue wants to screen films, stage theatre and sell alcohol. But in the licensing documents an objector referenced Shiva breaching planning law, saying it gave them "little faith about promises to reduce community impact of alcohol/crowd events".

A Shiva spokesperson said: "Antepavilion has quickly established itself as one of the most significant events in London's summer architectural calendar. The winners receive cash and are funded in the self-build of an innovative structure which is given temporary display. This year it was won with a symbolic theatre backdrop to present a late summer series of open events supported by the Arts Council."

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