Hazel Blears gives nod to two major projects on banks of the Thames
Two schemes poised for construction at the popular tourist and culture spot of London’s South Bank have been given the go ahead by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears after their planning applications were taken in for review. Matters were taken over the heads of the Southwark Council planning committee in March last year following fears that they may conflict with national and regional policies on issues including height restrictions and landmark significance.
1 Blackfriars Road by Ian Simpson Architects and 20 Blackfriars Road by Wilkinson Eyre Architects were both found to be compliant with the London Plan, English Heritage guidelines and the commanding planning guidelines for the City of London. Being outside of viewing corridors towards the Westminster heritage site and St James Park it was found that “both proposals would satisfy the policy framework relating to the location of tall buildings, including that they would have excellent accessibility to public transport facilities and be at a point of landmark significance,” said the inspector.
Ian Simpson Architects’ project will provide a landmark, sail-shaped, luxury hotel and residential tower with 96 apartments and 261 hotel rooms. An undulating public landscape is formed at the base and a public observation deck will be accessible at the top of the building.
Wilkinson Eyre’s scheme at 20 Blackfriars Road consists of two towers of 23 and 42 storeys and a public square. The smaller of the two towers will be used for commercial space and the larger for residential.
The inspector praised the potential of both schemes: “One of the proposals would bring a hotel; the other would bring offices; both would bring housing, shops/cafes/restaurants and open space,” reads the inspectors report, “Whether individually or jointly, it is difficult to see how the two proposals could not, by consolidating and adding to what is there, ‘help to provide a coherent location for economic clusters of related activities’.”
Jim Eyre, Director of Wilkinson Eyre, said of the news: “We are very pleased for our client, Circleplane and, of course, for the team at No. 1 Blackfriars. We are absolutely delighted with the Inspector’s ringing endorsement of the quality of our design and his clear and positive position on both the impact of our scheme from the Blue Bridge in St. James’ Park and on the beneficial contribution in urban design terms to London and in particular Southwark.
“We look forward to further discussions with Circleplane on how the project is taken forward in what we all recognize is an exceptionally difficult market.”
Niki May Young