Planners admit ‘marmite’ architecture may not be to everyone’s taste
Lambeth Council planners have endorsed David Chipperfield Architects’ £600 million redevelopment of Elizabeth House near Waterloo train station in London.
The fate of the high profile project is set to be decided by the local authority’s planning committee on Tuesday (6 November).
English Heritage, Westminster Council and UNESCO have raised concern over the project due to its perceived impact on views from the Westminster World Heritage Site.
In a report, Lambeth planners acknowledged councillors must decide whether the application could give rise to ‘material harm’ with respect to views and if so, whether or not this could be outweighed by proposed public benefits.
The report went on to describe the architecture as ‘monolithic’ and ‘unapologetic’, adding: ‘The design engages a “marmite” response – it will not be to everyone’s taste, but then the National Planning Policy Framework makes the case that particular architectural tastes should not be imposed, nor innovation and initiative stifled.’
It said: ‘[The application] has actively responded to the concerns English Heritage raised under the previous application, and allows Big Ben to be uncompromised in protected views, nor compete with its internationally recognisable silhouette whose only competitor for attention is the London Eye.’
In 2009, a previous attempt to redevelop Elizabeth House by Allies and Morrison was criticised by English Heritage which claimed it would cause ‘significant harm’ to the Westminster World Heritage site. The £1 billion project was rejected by Secretary of State John Denham following a public inquiry.
In April this year, David Chipperfield Architects revealed revised plans for its Elizabeth House redevelopment scheme which had been reworked following feedback from English Heritage and Cabe.
The 132,000m² scheme for developers Chelsfield and London & Regional Properties replaces the 1960s Elizabeth House with two new buildings – a 29-storey, mixed-use office tower and a residential block.
The proposed north building, next to Waterloo’s Victory Arch, will be 123m tall and house 62,000m² of office space on its lower floors together with 142 new homes above.
The 10-storey south building, at the opposite end of the site at the corner of York Road and Leake Street, will feature 23,700m² of office space and 1,500m² of small shops and cafés at ground floor level.
At the heart of the plans is a new 10,000m² square - Victory Arch Square - billed as ‘a new seamless, step-free public space in front of the station’.
The scheme will feature a minimum 20 per cent affordable housing, comprising on-site intermediate and off-site affordable rent units.
Across the road, Squire and Partners’ masterplan for the redevelopment of the Shell Centre features a 122 metre-tall tower and is visible from protected views in St James’ Park and Parliament Square.
Approved schemes in the South Bank area include Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ 43-storey Doon Street tower and Ian Simpson’s 52-storey One Blackfriars skyscraper.
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