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Allies and Morrison’s £1.1bn East Bank hub in Olympic Park approved

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Allies and Morrison-led proposals for a £1.1 billion East Bank ‘cultural quarter’ in Stratford have won planning permission

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) planning committee greenlit the major Olympic Park project, drawn up in collaboration with O’Donnell + Tuomey, which will provide new facilities for some of the UK’s major cultural institutions.

The plans will now go before the Mayor of London for final approval. 

Earlier proposals had to undergo a major redesign, with tower heights cut back after a row over protected views of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Stratford Waterfront will be home to outposts for the BBC, the V&A and its new partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, a 550-seat theatre for dance company Sadler’s Wells and a campus for the University of the Arts’ London College of Fashion.

O’Donnell + Tuomey, which won the 2015 RIBA Gold Medal, is overseeing the V&A and Sadler’s Wells buildings, while masterplanner Allies and Morrison is carrying out the detailed design work on the BBC and London College of Fashion.

Historic England’s concerns over the scheme’s heights have been addressed in the redesign, and the body did not offer any objection.

However the London Borough of Newham, one of four boroughs the park spans, opposed the scheme on grounds of inadequate provision of affordable and family housing. 

Zaha Hadid Architects has also spoken out against the proposals over concerns the scheme would cause ‘significant harm’ to the design integrity of its 2014 Stirling Prize-nominated Aquatic Centre next door.

Recommending the scheme for approval, a report by LLDC planning officers said the East Bank was forecast to add £1.5 billion to the local economy and would generate 2,500 jobs.

‘The high calibre, global nature of the cultural and education institutions proposed and their investment in the area both in terms of their activities and outreach into local communities would have significant and long-lasting benefit,’ it said.

Outline planning permission was also granted for the residential element, which will include a quartet of towers of up to 24 storeys and a trio of smaller residential buildings. These lower blocks and three of the high-rises will be designed by Allies and Morrison.

A fourth tower has been drawn up by O’Donnell + Tuomey. Emerging Spanish practice Camps Felip Arquitecturia is also working on the project.

It follows final approval in March of plans for the nearby UCL East campus. That project includes Stanton Williams’ Marshgate I, a 35,000m² centre for academic research and teaching facility and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ £90 million Pool Street West scheme.

An LLDC spokesperson said: ‘We are delighted that the planning committee has approved the scheme and we hope the GLA will be supportive too once the decision is referred to them. Once that is complete, we hope to begin building East Bank as soon as possible.’

Stratford waterfront masterplan

Stratford waterfront masterplan

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Readers' comments (3)

  • What a mess! Grand Designs and the the Harvard effect comes to East London!? A cultural dessert, without people or context?

    Couldn’t all the bodies and their design teams get together with the remaining local people to produce something worth living in. There are enough monuments left over from the Olympics, what is needed is “background” buildings, with fit outs to suit the interesting occupants. And it might save money, that could enable the public bodies involved to reduce their burden on tax payer.

    Hopefully the country will be leaner and fitter in the Post Brexit world? The Arts, culture and Universities have been one of our great contributions to the world, and our buildings reflect this. But come on, this is a load of post imperial flim flam when our schools and hospitals are short of cash?

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  • I agree with David Farmery. Look at image 16, with the original and revised schemes next to each other. The first scheme was far from wonderful but could have been developed to produce something that had variety and room to breathe within a coherent whole. The new scheme is a catastrophic assemblage of lumpen forms, clashing scales and materials, fussy and at the same time crude. It shouts out that it is a Big Cultural Statement - but is only possible by the grace of Commercial Funding, which relegates civic values and human scale urbanism to the bottom drawer.
    This project needs to start again

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  • Who, honestly, would disagree with David and Dan?

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