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Green light for Foster's London Bridge City

Foster and Partners' detailed masterplan for London Bridge City, which hems in but does not include its curved gla building, has been given the go-ahead by planners, despite fears of that it may create a towering 'canyon' effect.

The 5.3ha masterplan on 250m of land on the River Thames will cost around £2 billion. It features nine nine-storey colonnaded offices, made of glass and stone and with metal and wood louvres. The top two floors of each block, made of glass, are set back to reduce massing.

A hotel and shops near Tooley Street will have terracotta and brick panels, and a cinema will be blended into an existing former fire station. The only building being designed by Foster, however, is the £40 million gla building on the site overlooked by the Grade-I Tower Bridge and Tower of London. That scheme goes in for planning consent in July, with a start due in November.

Architects for the other buildings will be chosen by the developer cit Markborough and tenants. cit is in talks about the 250-bed hotel, with, it's believed, hok and kss, over designs which should 'enhance the piazza- like ethos of the site without creating Foster clones'.

Southwark council said the unanimous approval was a starting signal to build up plans for the nine buildings, each of which will need individual approval. Some 51 per cent of the area would be public. But Southwark's conservation office warned against a possible 'dense and monolithic proposal', and said the upper-level set-backs were needed to avoid a canyon affect. Treating the elevations too similarly was also criticised for creating a 'greater uniformity of the scheme than might be expected.'

Tooley Street residents, who are battling plans to smash down three estates and sell the land (aj 25.02.99), demanded more residential buildings in the scheme, a library and childcare facilities. The proposals bore no relation to the 1000-year history of the site, they said.

Peter Stewart, deputy secretary of the Royal Fine Art Commission, said: 'It can't be assessed at this stage. The revised masterplan does not take account of the gla building which will have a profound effect. It is very surprising, strange and unsatisfactory.'

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