Pickles approves Shell Centre redevelopment

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has given the green light for controversial plans to redevelop the Shell Centre on London's South Bank, agreeing with an inspector that the proposals would not be harmful to the setting of the Westminster World Heritage site.

Shell Centre redevelopment: approved by Pickles following public inquiry
Shell Centre redevelopment: approved by Pickles following public inquiry

Joint venture Braeburn Estates' application for the huge mixed-use development of eight buildings was approved by the London Borough of Lambeth in May 2013 and then called in by the communities secretary last September.

Plans for the site include 877 apartments, about 76,000 square metres of office space, 110,000 square metres of residential space, and 6,000 square metres of new shops, restaurants and cafés. The proposals would keep the 1960s-built, 27-storey Shell Centre Tower.

A decision note issued this morning said that Pickles had agreed with the conclusions and recommendations of inspector John Braithwaite, who had recommended that permission be granted.

Objections to the application were raised by heritage watchdog English Heritage because of the impact of the size of the new development on views of nearby historic buildings, including the Palace of Westmister World Heritage site.

In its representation to the public inquiry, Westminster City Council had argued that the proposals would "detract" from the Elizabeth Tower and "cannot be said to preserve or enhance the settings of Elizabeth Tower or the Westminster World Heritage site".

But Pickles’ decision note said that, after "careful consideration", the secretary of state "agrees that the proposed development would not be harmful to the setting or outstanding universal value of the Westminster World Heritage site and he has found … that there would be no harm to any other heritage asset".

According to the note, Pickles agreed with the inspector that the proposed development is of the "highest quality" and would cause "no harm to any heritage asset" and is consistent with government policies in planning for the conservation and enhancement of the historic environment.

Pickles' note said that he "sees the proposed development as successfully optimising the potential for the provision of jobs and homes on a site that is highly accessible by public transport" and added that the proposals "comply with the development plan as a whole and should be approved".

A DCLG spokesman said:  "Having considered the criteria and other relevant matters, ministers agree with the independent planning inspector that planning permission should be granted for development of the Shell Centre at South Bank.

"They agree that the proposals will deliver high quality design, provide accessible jobs and homes, and enhance the character of the South Bank area. The scheme is also supported by both the local council and mayor."

Lib Peck, leader of the London Borough of Lambeth, welcomed Pickles' decision.

She said: "During the very serious deliberations of Lambeth Council’s planning process, considerable regard was given to the impact the development would have in terms of the relevant conservation areas.

"Our decision to support the Shell Centre scheme is entirely consistent with the aims of the National Planning Policy Framework which means we have a planning system where stakeholders work together to ensure sustainable economic growth.

"Indeed, the scheme is the product of considerable partnership working between landowners, local people and businesses and the Mayor of London."


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