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Lift-off for Renzo's groundscraper

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Renzo Piano's 'groundscraper' near to London's Centre Point tower has dramatically re-entered the race to become the Italian architect's first completed building in the UK.

First unveiled in February 2004 (AJ 19/02/04), the long-awaited 66,000m2 mixed-use St Giles Court development seemed to have stalled in planning, leaving Piano's massive Shard tower at London Bridge in pole position.

However Camden Council has now approved a revised application for the redevelopment of the site, which is currently occupied by the soon-to-be demolished Ministry of Defence building behind New Oxford Street.

According to a council spokesman, the authority has 'agreed a robust legal agreement to ensure the delivery of all the negotiated benefits' and has obtained an undertaking from the developers to retain Piano as the scheme's architect.

The development will include 100 new homes, offices, restaurants and retail space and there are also plans to revamp the nearby Grade-II* listed St Giles-in-the-Field churchyard.

Varying in height from 8 to 16 storeys, the final scheme will be slightly smaller than the 18 storeys originally proposed.

Councillor Dawn Somper, chair of the development control committee at Camden Council, added: 'We listened to the results of the local public consultation and fed these into the council's strong negotiations with the developer, so we have met local and national planning policies and can look forward to a new future for St Giles High Street.'

by Richard Waite

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