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Mayor rubberstamps Pilbrow's contentious Docklands tower

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Plans by Pilbrow & Partners for a major mixed use development in Docklands have been approved by the mayor of London

Deputy mayor Edward Lister, acting for Mayor Boris Johnson, made the decision over the Alpha Square development at a hearing last week after Tower Hamlets councillors rejected the scheme in February.

The proposals, prepared on behalf of developer Far East Consortium International, had already been revised after planning officers voiced concerns about over development on the site in June last year.

However a redrawn application also failed to satisfy either planners or councillors.

The scheme was subsequently called in by the mayor who maintained his track record of backing every project he has taken planning responsibility for. A planning report by GLA officers said: ‘The design of the proposal is of the highest quality, both architecturally and in respect of its response to the site and local context, in terms of: layout; ground floor uses; connections and permeability; height and massing; architectural appearance and materials; and, public realm and public spaces.’

The approved scheme include 634 homes, a 10,000m² hotel, a 3,443m² school and community hall, a 398m² health centre and a 200m² café. The two main buildings on the site would be 34 and 65 storeys in height. The reworked plans also incorporate the North Pole pub, which had originally been proposed for demolition.

A statement on behalf of Pilbrow & Partners welcomed the decision, saying: ‘Alpha Square is a major mixed used proposal which will make a significant contribution to meeting local needs in South Quay for housing, employment, health and education.

‘Placemaking lies at the heart of the scheme’s objectives to deliver a vibrant and successful core to the emerging new neighbourhood to the west of Marsh Wall. The proposals are integrated into their physical, social and economic context.’

Responding to the news, Barbara Weiss, co-founder of the Skyline campaign, said: ‘It is a huge monster. You can’t say that area shouldn’t have tall buildings – the horse has already bolted.

“But what sort of area are they trying to create? It is going to be more dense than Hong Kong and it will create huge pressure on infrastructure.’

Project data

Location South Quay, Docklands, London
Type of project Mixed use
Client Far East Consortium International Limited (FEC)
Architect Pilbrow & Partners
Landscape architect OuterSpace
Planning consultant JLL
Structural engineer WSP group
M&E consultant Sweco
Quantity surveyor Tower8
Gross internal floor area 82,115m²
Total cost £500 million 

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