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New Covent Garden plans set for approval despite opposition

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Contentious £2bn New Covent Garden Market scheme set for green light in face of criticism from London Mayor and Dalian Wanda

Planning officers have recommended the approval of the £2billion New Covent Garden Market scheme despite a scathing assessment of the plans by the London mayor and the Chinese developer of a neighbouring project.

As AJ revealed this week, mayor Johnson has argued that the 25ha scheme by SOM and BDP does not comply with the London Plan, citing concerns including housing design quality and the height and bulk of the development’s tallest towers.

The developer of KPF’s adjacent One Nine Elms project Dalian Wanda, which is run by China’s richest man Wang Jianlin, argued that New Covent Garden Market’s N6 tower was too close to its own boundary and would have a negative impact on its 43 storey ‘River Tower’, set to contain the group’s first Five Star hotel outside China.

Nevertheless, a report published today shows officers at Wandsworth Council are recommending the scheme is approved ahead of the planning committee meeting next Wednesday (12 November).

New Covent Garden Market is the single largest redevelopment scheme in the wider 195ha regeneration of Nine Elms.

On the scheme’s tall buildings, the report said the development had been subject to a detailed ‘townscape and visual impact’ assessment which showed ‘in many cases beneficial effects’.

‘In long range, regional and sub-regional views the three towers and tall buildings on the site would range from neutral to moderate beneficial with borough and local views ranging from negligible to moderate beneficial’, the report said.

The report argued that the scheme’s 180m high N8 tower – deemed too high by the mayor’s office - was acceptable, noting it was lower than the tallest 200m tower at One Nine Elms and arguing it would become part of a ‘varied skyline’.

Turning to housing design, the report acknowledged the scheme included a number of single aspect family sized homes but said the applicant had agreed to demonstrate the quality of dwellings and meet the requirements of the London Plan at detailed planning stage.

The report said that Thessaly Road site, which is due to offer family homes with private gardens at ground floor and a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bed flats on the floors above, would have a ‘very low proportion of dual aspect units’.

‘However, this is as a result of the constraints of the site and the need to mitigate noise from the market,’ the report stated. ‘Further to this…there is the ability to ensure that there are no north facing single aspect units. Taking this into account the lower proportion of dual aspect units could be accepted in this instance.’

Addressing Dalian Wanda’s complaint, the report said the scheme’s N6 building would be 15m from the River Tower but that N6 would ‘angle away’ from the boundary between the two sites, making the distance acceptable.

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