English Heritage has launched a savage assault on Ian Ritchie Architects' controversial plans for Potters' Field in the London Borough of Southwark.
EH believes the scheme - for a cluster of towers on a site next to Foster and Partners' GLA headquarters - is out of scale with the Tower of London World Heritage Site and threatens strategic views of St Paul's Cathedral. The heritage body has the vociferous support of campaign group the Tooley Street Tenant's and Resident's Association which is campaigning for Southwark council to refuse planning permission.
Vice chair Andrew Ecclestone said the group was opposing the development for 'any number of reasons'. 'We are not happy with the designs, the height, the spatial planning or the public realm, ' he said. And he also attacked 'a conflict of interests' in Southwark, which is considering the plans. 'The council owns 90 per cent of the land and it knows that if it gives the scheme planning permission, its value will go up exponentially.'
He added: 'This scheme is a missed opportunity to do something exciting with one of Britain's highest-profile sites.'
In its first statement on the project, English Heritage pulled no punches, saying the design fails to 'relate to the wider historic context'. 'While this is clearly an innovative design, we do not believe it offers the right solution in this particular context, ' it says. 'The proposed towers do not provide the sensitive, complementary, contextual approach required for this site.
'They would be unacceptably obtrusive to the setting of the Tower of London World Heritage Site, the Grade I-listed Tower Bridge, the Grade II-listed Lambeth College and would also intrude into the strategic views of St Paul's from Blackheath.'
Developer Berkeley Homes dismissed the criticism, saying the project 'enhances the townscape and the riverscape of the Tower Bridge area'. It carried out a full assessment of the scheme's impact, it said, submitting a detailed environmental report with its planning application.
Ian Ritchie Architects refused to comment.