The millionaire owner of Ambassador House who paid just £300,000 for it nine years ago at auction has been given prior approval to convert six floors of the empty office block opposite Thornton Heath station in to 66 one and two bedroom units.
Sajid Bashir submitted an application on April 3 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.
The application proposes accommodation for 48 one bed and 18 two bed units with anticipated occupancy for 150 people by converting the second, third, fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth floors and includes parking and cycle storage.
Mr Bashir is the CEO of Copperstones Ltd, which an upmarket estate agents more used to marketing property in more salubrious surroundings including the Battersea Powerstation development and Dubai.
His company is presently marketing the Aston Martin Residences, in Miami (pictured) which boasts access to a super yacht marina, and potentially access to butler services that will ferry residents to a private, exclusive beach.
The run down 1960s office block which was once a busy business hub has sat empty for years and the only occupants in recent times apart from pigeons were an arts collective who briefly squatted the building in 2019.
Last year workmen began stripping back the interior of the building and broken windows have been patched up with artwork left behind by the squatters.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.
Mr Bashir 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 from 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 but it took the council until last month to provide prior approval.
The conditions attached include an S106 agreement and Community Interest Levy and the council makes reference to ensuring the floors and ceilings are properly insulated to prevent noise.
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 residential accommodation will be able to utilise the 54 car parking spaces associated with the previous office building.
The Chronicle reported in 2019 that Mr Bashir, who also owns Red Wing which is based offshore, 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.
As usual The Chronicle contacted a representative of Coppperstones to find out more about the Ambassador House plans but got no response.