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Skyline Campaign backs residents' criticism of 'unnecessary' Rolfe Judd tower

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The Skyline Campaign has backed local residents’ criticism of a proposed 40-storey tower by Rolfe Judd Architects, saying it will ‘ruin’ London’s skyline for thousands of people

The campaign described the tall building in the Malt Street regeneration site, which was recently submitted for planning, as ‘excessive’ and ‘unnecessary’ and said its architectural form ‘speaks of social division’. 

The planned scheme, for Berkeley Homes in the borough of Southwark, will provide three buildings, of six, 15 and 40 storeys, which will provide 359 homes and 1,796m² of retail, community and leisure space. The land is bounded by Malt Street, Bianca Road, Latona Road, Haymerle Road and Frensham Street. 

Barbara Weiss of Barbara Weiss Architects, who is co-founder of the Skyline Campaign, said that if this ‘misjudged over-development’ was approved, this area of central London would be ‘forever changed’.

She added that, although some parts of the scheme used good design, the 40-storey tower would harm the capital’s skyline. 

‘What is particularly sad is that the planning drawings show that, in putting forward a large number of different typologies, several of them are indeed quite sensitively designed, and much more appropriate for a London context than others,’ she said. ‘In particular, some of the masonry and more solid mid-rise blocks are exactly what we should be promoting in order to densify the city and to create the large number of extra housing units that we require.

‘So why then not stop, before delivering the “killer blow” that ruins it all: the excessive 40-storey tower that angers so many, and will only contribute to ruining the skyline for thousands and thousands of Londoners living in its shadow, or doomed to look at it from afar, a clumsy and unnecessary architectural form that speaks of social division, faddish short-termism and disregard of urban coherence?’

So far, the project has received 50 public comments, all except one criticising or objecting to the scheme. One commentator claimed the proposals ‘do not fit with the architectural landscape in the area’ and will ‘add to the strained and already over capacity public transport available in the area’, while another said the 40-storey tower would be a ‘blight on the landscape’. 

A further concerned south London resident, who claims to live opposite the regeneration site, said the skyscraper would ‘ruin the lives and atmosphere’ of those living nearby, adding that they were concerned by the impact this building would have on daylight levels in the surrounding homes. 

Responding to the comments, a spokesperson for Berkeley said: ‘Fundamentally, it’s got to work as a place. Height is not the key criterion but it can be useful and here it marks a significant new public square and the pedestrian connectivity.’

Site plans

Site plans

Source: Berkeley Homes/Rolfe Judd

Malt Street scheme by Rolfe Judd (site plan)


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