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Historic England blasts tower heights in Allies and Morrison’s Canada Water scheme

Allies and morrison's designs for a new town square at canada water
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Historic England has raised fears that a cluster of skyscrapers in Allies and Morrison’s masterplan for Canada Water will have a ‘profound and far-reaching’ impact on London’s skyline

The practice’s proposals for a £4 billion regeneration of the 21ha site, for developer British Land, were submitted to Southwark Council in May and include outline proposals for three ‘clusters’ of towers with the tallest potentially reaching 162m.

Detailed plans have yet to be submitted, but the heritage watchdog says the outline plans to build seven tall buildings will harm views of some of the capital’s most famous landmarks.

The impact on Tower Bridge would be ‘particularly harmful’, the body argued, as it would block part of its silhouette in views along London Bridge, ‘visually competing with its monumental character and reducing its landmark status along the Thames’.

It also said the towers would encroach on the setting of St Paul’s Cathedral in views from Greenwich Park, and on the spire of the Grade II* Church of St Mary Rotherhithe. 

While accepting a number of tall buildings had been approved in the area, including neighbouring Sellar Developments’ 41-storey tower currently under construction, it added it was ‘disappointed’ that its concerns had been ignored.

The body’s historic buildings inspector Alasdair Young wrote: ‘In fact, most of the proposed buildings are now taller than what we reviewed at pre-application stage which incorporates seven tall buildings potentially rising to a height of 162m.

‘This scheme would have a profound and far-reaching impact on the London skyline and would, in our view, adversely affect the setting of highly graded designated heritage assets.’

He added that the proposals ‘far exceed’ the recommended heights of between 20-25 storeys in the Canada Water Area Action Plan, adopted in 2015, and that some of the proposed tall buildings are located outside the local authority’s tall buildings area.

But masterplan documents submitted to Southwark Council by Allies and Morrison outline how the scheme’s tall buildings will play a ‘significant role’ in transforming Canada Water into a new major town centre.

The document says: ‘These buildings are very prominent and need to be of exceptional architectural design quality, broadcasting the character and identity of Canada Water. They are located in clusters, creating a distinct profile that contributes to the skyline of London, whilst being respectful of strategic view corridors.’ 

The hybrid planning application, submitted in May, also included detailed plans for a trio of buildings, two designed by Allies and Morrison including a 35-storey tower and one by Duggan Morris (now Morris+Company), comprising 650 homes, approximately 93,000m² of workspace, and a leisure centre. 

A British Land spokesperson said: ‘The Canada Water Masterplan is an exciting opportunity to create a new urban centre for London, with the potential to deliver around 3,000 new homes and 20,000 new jobs.

’The proposal for tall buildings will meet planning policy objectives for the site to deliver new homes, shops and jobs within Canada Water, born out of its status as an Opportunity Area, Major Town Centre and Housing Zone.’

Subject to planning approval, construction of the first buildings will begin in spring 2019 with the entire scheme expected to completed by 2033.

Model shot towers

Model shot towers

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Phil Parker

    Public and Mayor of London has derided the Olympicopolis scheme as quote ugly, saying he’s glad to see the back of it.

    British Land have appointed the same architect for Canada Water - the project has the same idiom - why should Historic England think it’s any better?

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