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Legal challenge to Chipperfield’s Elizabeth House scheme

English Heritage and Westminster City Council have requested a judicial review of the planning consent given to David Chipperfield’s £600 million Elizabeth House scheme

A statement from English Heritage said that while it felt the redevelopment of the high-profile site next to Waterloo Station was ‘acceptable in principle’, it remained worried about the impact on key views around Westminster and that communities minister Eric Pickles had not fully considered these by failing to call in the project.

The organisation said: ‘This is a particularly sensitive site that sits within the backdrop view of the Palace of Westminster, the Royal Festival Hall and County Hall. These are among the most significant historic and cultural assets of the capital and essential elements on its identity and character as a world city.’

‘English Heritage and Westminster City Council were so concerned by the decision of the Secretary of State not to call in, given the harm to heritage, that we have agreed we should challenge it.’

The Elizabeth House development by David Chipperfield Architects would sit next to Waterloo Station and would be visible from Parliament Square.

UNESCO has also raised concerns about the impact the development would have on views from the Westminster World Heritage Site, and its World Heritage Committee is currently meeting in Cambodia. It is feared that Westminster, together with the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and Hayle Harbour in Cornwall could lose their World Heritage statuses due to the impact of nearby developments. (see AJ 11.06.13)

Speaking at the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) conference last week, Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage said: ‘There is no way that Westminster [council] or for that matter, English Heritage, can feel remotely convinced that the planning minister did indeed take into account the fact that it is a protected view and a world heritage site.’

Thurley added: ‘We have a system [of protected views] and surely the system is intended to protect things that people have, through the democratic system, identified as important and treasured by the public, and views in and out of Parliament Square must be amongst those.’

‘It is astonishing that everybody has tossed to one side their own regulations and said it should go ahead.’

Readers' comments (1)

  • Whilst having buildings as part of the backdrop to a World Heritage site is not in itself unacceptable, surely the issues are also quality of public realm, a cut back to reveal the entrance to Waterloo Station, lack of enclosure to the enlarged public realm and the unrelieved elevational treatment. Big buildings require more subtlety and interrogation before approval.

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