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Major redesign for Olympicopolis to save St Paul’s views

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Allies and Morrison’s Olympicopolis proposals in Stratford, east London, are being reduced in height as part of a major redesign following a row over protected views of St Paul’s Cathedral

Sources close to the proposed new £1.3 billion cultural quarter on the Olympic Park claim the plans will have to be revised as a result of a spat over the impact on the skyline of another nearby project – SOM’s Manhattan Loft Gardens tower near Stratford station.

In November, conservation charity Friends of Richmond Park called on London mayor Sadiq Khan to halt the construction of SOM’s 42-storey skyscraper, claiming it ‘destroyed’ a historic view of St Paul’s from the park.

Khan has since revealed he is planning to revise and potentially extend the London View Management Framework (LVMF) in his upcoming London Plan and urged all councils to take additional care when considering high-rise developments.

The 30-storey and 40-storey residential towers on the Olympicopolis scheme are understood to be among half a dozen high-rise projects in Stratford which could be affected by the changes to the sightline policy.

The original height of the Olympicopolis skyscrapers had been determined by the number of homes project-backer London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) needed to help finance and support the rest of the scheme.  

As well as a new outpost for the V&A, designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey, the cultural quarter will also include a new space for Sadler’s Wells and a campus for the London College of Fashion.

Due to the reduction in the size of the towers, the masterplan will now have to be rethought to provide the required amount of residential development elsewhere on the site.

The rejig has meant a delay to the scheme’s timetable. Initially set to be submitted for planning in December, the new-look designs are not now expected to be revealed until May.

The design team is considering different configurations

A source close to the scheme told the AJ: ‘The potential change to planning guidance came out of left field.

‘While the project is not at risk, the scheme is being looked at again. There is a huge amount of work going on. The design team is considering different configurations but including a similar amount of residential development [which are] needed to make this stack up.’

According to the source, the LLDC still hopes the quarter will open its doors in 2022 but the final completion date is now likely to be late summer or early autumn.

The LLDC declined to comment.

Last year the scheme’s brick and glass designs were heavily criticised by leading architects Peter Cook, Will Alsop and Ian Ritchie, who described the development as ‘dull as ditchwater’, ‘under-amplified Vivaldi’ and ‘tried and tired’.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • At last, but just a drop in the ocean for London and indeed for everywhere.
    London deserved at last a mayor who put the quality of life of the citizens before personal enrichment of a few. All towns and villages deserve one.
    And architects are struggling to cram a minimum volume onto a piece of land that probably cannot digest such a density of human activity.
    I can't understand how anyone can believe developers when they whine about having to build a minimum of volume to make the “operation“ feasible.
    Land price, finance and building cost, on one side of the table and sellable floor area x current selling price on the other, and he always complains about having just too small a margin in the bottom right hand corner of his spread-sheet.
    Well that's his problem, and a small one compared to the impact his supposed miscalculations has regularly on communities and for generations. And we all know his profit is in reality more than juicy in reality.
    If the permitted density were to be defined by politicians in the long-term interest of their communities, the variable which is the buying price of the land would adjust automatically to guarantee the poor developers juicy profit. And millions of citizens for generations to would be able to live in more people friendly towns. The landowners would be the only ones less happy, but then again I'm sure they would still be able to make enough money not to have to actually work like the rest of us.
    I sincerely hope that politicians everywhere take example.

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