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Pilbrow & Partners reveals fresh plans for London Fire Brigade HQ overhaul


Pilbrow & Partners has revealed new designs for a revamp of London Fire Brigade’s HQ on the Albert Embankment, replacing an earlier rejected scheme by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands 

The proposals, drawn up for developer U+I, will re-provide a ‘modern’ 2,203m² fire station at the Grade II-listed 1937 riverfront base in Lambeth, along with 417 new homes.

The 1.06ha site has been divided up into three plots for the scheme, which will reach up to 26 storeys in height and includes 10,809m² of office and work space, a 200-bed hotel and new public space.

It is the second attempt by the London Fire Brigade to redevelop its base, following the rejection in 2011 of the scheme designed by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (LDS) 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 also failed to win a subsequent appeal to the planning inspectorate.

According to a design statement provided by Pilbrow & Partners for the new scheme, its approach was informed by ’improved levels of natural light’.

The proposals for the first parcel of land, the West Site, include a single-storey 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 LFB is also 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 five to 26 storeys, delivering a range of office and workspace units, a gym, flexible retail and up to 292 residential units.

An 11-storey building with a further 30 homes and ground-floor retail units is proposed for the east site. 

Practice director Fred Pilbrow said: ’It’s exciting for Pilbrow & Partners to be able to bring to life such a prominent yet currently underutilised site to benefit both local residents and London as a whole.

’Working with U+I and the London Fire Brigade, our proposals for 8 Albert Embankment will create a thriving, mixed-use community with a state-of-the-art fire station at its heart and a new home for the London Fire Brigade museum, a major cultural asset for Lambeth.’

Lds albert embankment london fire brigade

REJECTED: Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ proposals for London Fire Brigade HQ on Albert Embankment

REJECTED: Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ proposals for London Fire Brigade HQ on Albert Embankment


Readers' comments (5)

  • I wonder if the 'state of the art' fire station will be adequately equipped, or whether the London Fire Brigade will still find itself having to borrow high reach firefighting machines from another brigade in the event of the next tower block fire?

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  • Poor old Albert Embankment. Whilst others might have had the same view of the unbroken line of post-war office blocks running along it, the current and proposed crowd of ugly flats is awful.

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  • Poor old London Fire Brigade! Gorgeous listed purpose built HQ on the river next to the only UN building in the capital... and what do they do? Mothball it for 15 years while they twiddle around with developers attempting to overturn the planning policy specific to this site, which clearly states (1) it's industrial land (2) towers are not appropriate!

    First came LDS/Native Land 2006-2013 with their 15 storey towers of swank, minimum affordable housing ('viability'), and an under-the-table side salad of £44m to LFB coffers, to pay those clever senior LFB executives, presumably. They were refused on the daylight impact (QC: "shouldn't be over-prescriptive with BRE guildelines in dense urban areas"; inspector: "shouldn't you be more protective of daylight in dense urban areas?")... So along comes Pilbrow/U+I with more of the same, only this time its 26 storeys of swank!

    Are the LFB providing the definition of institutional madness - making a mistake and repeating it? Or will Lambeth 'Garden Bridge' Council provide the definition of institutional madness by granting approval this time? Or are we collectively providing the definition of madness by letting developers, fire chief execs and council leaders all collect a handsome salary at our expense whilst leaving public land to rot for 15 years?

    Poor old London.

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  • And poor old U+I (strapline: "Regeneration Rethought"), who pride themselves on doing a good job, yet after two years of pre-app have managed to come up with a scheme which the Council have now designated a Departure Application...

    All applications depart from the plan, of course, but a Departure Application departs so incontrovertibly that there simply is no pretending otherwise. Although U+I will still try - senior 'nice guy' Richard Upton has been doing just that, denying that it was a Departure application - hasn't he talked to Lambeth?

    But it's hardly surprising since they've hardly talked to anyone - a shameless absence of meaningful consultation over the past two years: all that they managed were some drop-in exhibitions for a few hours every six months, advertised a few days in advance... And yet they knew that the Lifschutz scheme had been stopped by a well-organised community opposition, right through to public inquiry.

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  • The planning application as presented is a departure application and neither respects the lambeth local plan nor the amenity of local residents .
    The local plan clearly states that this site is not suitable for tall buildings but a plan has been submitted with 2 tall buildings
    The native land scheme lost at appeal due to the loss of light to the local residents
    This scheme also causes loss of light
    No 8 albert embankment is the only building left from the 1930s and has 2 grade 2 listings
    This heritage structure is being sacrificed with a double height glass box and wrap around building losing the very essence of the relief and shape of the moderne style
    This is a travesty
    This departure application needs to be rejected and a scheme developed which respects the site the heritage and the local community whose voice has not been listened to

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