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Conditional permission has been given for the Pollen Estates site at 5-9 Cork Street, provided a section 106 legal agreement being drawn up secures "a minimum of 1,727 sq m of the new retail accommodation" to be occupied "for art or antique gallery/shop purposes, at a market rent for art gallery/antique shop use (final definition to be agreed)".

Three months were given for that legal agreement to be completed (from March 5) and a decision over permission would be made then.

This development affects five out of the 22 galleries in Cork Street. Their leases expire in 2015.

The planning application is listed on Westminster City Council's website as "pending decision" (12/10803/FULL). ATG asked the council to confirm when a final decision would be made but despite repeated requests have yet to receive an answer.

However, galleries further along Cork Street, at nos.22-27, are still fighting proposals by landlord Native Land, who want to replace the current building with luxury apartment blocks.

That planning application mentions "demolition of the existing building and construction of a new building comprising nine floors above ground and three basement levels, including retail (Class A1) (of which a minimum of 994 sq m GIA shall be occupied by Art Galleries)" and also "a publicly accessible arcade at ground floor level".

Legal Challenge

However, there appears to be no legally binding provision in place to ensure that the space is indeed reserved for art gallery use - class A1 is retail as a whole - and dealers affected say they have been kept in the dark about whether they will be offered space in the new building, or if rents will rise.

ATG understand that only three galleries remain party to a legal challenge to Native Land's plan, which is set to be heard in mid July and centres on regulations under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

The application for the site between 29 and 30 Old Burlington Street and 22-27 Cork Street (ref 13/01715/FULL) is listed by Westminster as "pending consideration".

Again, when ATG asked the council when this was likely to be decided they failed to answer.