Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has intervened on Pilbrow & Partners’ proposals to overhaul the former London Fire Brigade headquarters on Albert Embankment
Jenrick called in the application for his decision after it had been approved by Lambeth Council.
The scheme would create more than 400 homes, a 200-bed hotel and some 10,000m2 of office space as well as a modernised fire station and related museum.
But the government received more than 200 requests for it to call in the application and will ask a planning inspector to report on the proposals’ compliance with local and national planning policy, particularly regarding conservation of the historic environment.
The Twentieth Century Society objected to the plans, saying a proposed roof extension would ‘destroy the character and form’ of the Grade II-listed building designed by EP Wheeler and opened by King George VI in 1937.
However, a spokesperson for project backer U+I warned that Jenrick’s intervention could lead to ‘significant delay’ delivering the scheme.
‘The plans, which received the backing of the London Borough of Lambeth and followed extensive consultation with the local community, will positively transform a site that has lain vacant for almost 10 years,’ said the spokesperson.
London Fire Brigade said the station required ‘significant modernisation’.
‘These plans deliver improved training facilities, new accommodation for a diverse workforce and a new community space,’ said a spokesperson.
‘This development will also release capital funds to invest in our stations, training and equipment across the capital. We remain committed to this scheme, which is an important part of our future.’
Pilbrow & Partners’ designs represent the second attempt by the London Fire Brigade to redevelop the site, following the rejection in 2011 of a scheme designed by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands for developer Native Land (pictured below).
Dismissed by Lambeth Council because of concerns over scale and impact on the daylight of neighbouring properties, the Native Land scheme failed to win a subsequent appeal to the planning inspectorate.
Pilbrow & Partners divided the 1.06ha site into three plots.
Proposals for the first parcel of land, the west site, include a glazed extension of the listed fire station to provide a rooftop restaurant, which will connect via a footbridge to a new 200-bed hotel.
This plot will also contain the new fire station along with 95 homes, while the brigade is seeking permission to change the building’s ground floor and basement for use as a permanent home for the London Fire Brigade Museum.
The central site, meanwhile, will comprise four buildings ranging from four to 26 storeys, delivering a range of office and workspace units, a gym, flexible retail and 318 residential units.
An 11-storey building with a further 30 homes and ground-floor retail units is proposed for the east site.
A government spokesperson said: ’Each planning application is taken on its own merits and the secretary of state has called in this case to be further considered. The case will now be considered at a local inquiry so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.’
REJECTED: Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ proposals for London Fire Brigade HQ on Albert Embankment