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Blears approves Ian Simpson and Wilkinson Eyre skyscrapers

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Communities secretary Hazel Blears has given the green light to both Ian Simpson Architects’ 52-storey Mirax-Beetham skyscraper and the neighbouring Wilkinson Eyre twin-tower scheme on Blackfriars Road in Southwark, South London

The decision follows a joint public inquiry into the two high-rise developments near Blackfriars Bridge, south of the Thames, which started in September.

Although Southwark Council had approved the pair of projects, the developments had come in for criticism from both Westminster Council and the Royal Parks, which claimed the skyscrapers would ruin views of London from St James Park.

However Blears dismissed the concerns and agreed with the planning inspector’s report stating that the riverside location was ‘appropriate in principle’ for a tall building. Her full decision can be read in the pdf attached below

She added: ‘[I am] satisfied that the proposals comply with Planning Policy Guidance 15 and associated development plan policies on protecting the setting of listed buildings and preserving and enhancing conservation areas and their settings.

‘[I] further consider that each proposal is of appropriate scale and geometry not to overpower the existing built-form or detract from night-time views, and that the scale or appearance of the proposals, individually or cumulatively, would not dominate or overpower the setting of the view from St James Park.’

Despite the current economic climate it is understood work on the Simpson tower will ‘start immediately’ and it could be ‘substantially built’ by 2012.
Responding to Blears’ decision, Hugh Frost, chairman of Beetham Organization, said: ‘This is a much needed boost to London. The development is a vital part of the regeneration of the South bank of the Thames, creating an iconic landmark and tourist destination, as well as providing jobs and a total transformation for the area.’


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