Plans for a series of tower blocks by the Thames where the old ITV studios used to be have been roundly condemned as “grotesque.”
Japanese developer Mitsubishi Estates bought the 24-storey London studios tower in Waterloo in 2019 for £145m and wants to knock it down to build three office blocks with shops. The blocks will be 26, 13 and six stories high.
Lambeth council previously approved two blocks of 31 and 14 stories for 213 homes but the scheme has been scrapped in favour of an office development – designed by Make Architects – which the authority has again approved.
Ben Oates, Lambeth’s principal planning officer, said: “The public benefits of the proposal outweigh the low degree of less than substantial harm to designated heritage assets.”
But opponents hope there will be a planning inquiry to stop it going ahead – and it could even be up to Communities Secretary Michael Gove to intervene.
The aim is to create a space which is more open to the public, with open squares and walkways around what is known as 72 Upper Ground.
It is an area of great significance, as the riverside area links the National Theatre, Tate Modern and Globe theatre and is a big tourist destination.
Many residents and critics of the design have declared the Mitsubishi vision an eyesore which would block daylight in homes and the local area.
Iain Tuckett, of Coin Street Community builders, is among those decrying the bulk and scale of the project saying it was “excessive and overbearing.”
He pointed out that the riverside walkways and gardens to the north of the development would be cast in shadow.
Michael Ball, from the Waterloo Community Development Group, described the proposals as “grotesquery on steroids, a swollen deformity for the South Bank.”
A spokesman for Mitsubishi Estates said: “Our proposals to transform a dormant, closed-off central London site into a new mixed-use development that prioritises high-quality workspace and the provision of new arts and cultural space will be a great addition to the South Bank.
“Recommended for approval by planning officers and by Lambeth Council, 72 Upper Ground will bring investment, 4,000 new jobs, and new workspace to one of London’s most famous destinations.
“Crucially, it will benefit the whole community through affordable workspace that is tailored to the needs of Lambeth’s emerging creative industries as well as cultural venues, new cafes and restaurants and open, green spaces.”
Pictured top: Mitsubishi 7 View of podium terrace (Picture: Make Architects)