The £1.2 billion Shell Centre development in London, masterplanned by Squire & Partners, has been awarded planning permission after being called in for review by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. Featuring 8 towers of up to 37 storeys which will sit alongside the existing 27-storey Shell Tower, the scheme was granted permission by the local council last year but was called in for review over fears that it could threaten the UNESCO Heritage status of the area around Westminster.
However, despite being awarded planning once again, opponents of the scheme have said they will continue to fight it, and have threatened to mount a judicial review of the scheme.
Read on after the break for more on the controversy
The scheme is planned to provide nearly 800 new homes, close to 80,000 square metres of office and 8,000 square metres of retail, taking advantage of the site's close proximity to both a major transport hub at Waterloo Station, and the popular tourist destination around Westminster and the London Eye.
The official decision by Eric Pickles states that the scheme "constitutes high quality and therefore good design", adding that he was satisfied that it "would cause no harm to any heritage asset."
This view was supported by Lambeth Council leader Lib Peck, who 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." She added that she was pleased that the Communities Secretary had ruled in favour of the "bold and ambitious" scheme.
However, some residents of the South Bank have united against the scheme. The 'Riverside Communities' have vowed to continue the battle against the scheme, with their representative George Turner saying: "To say eight tall buildings will cause no harm is insane.”
They have threatened a judicial review of the development, adding "We think a court would overturn this in a matter of days given the opportunity." Much of their case is expected to rest on the fact that - in spite of the 40% target for affordable housing in Lambeth - the scheme contains just 10% onsite and another 10% offsite. The developers were also not required to submit a viability assessment to prove that meeting the 40% target was not possible on the site.