coming up to public inquiry time for London Bridge Tower which is
make or break for the whole project. SN.com takes a closer look at
what will be if finished one of Europes finest skyscrapers.
London Bridge Tower is currently on the site of one of the grottiest
skyscrapers to grace London, although by Southwarks standards something
of a beauty. The current building occupied by PriceWaterhouseCoopers,
the worlds largest accountancy firm is just under 100m tall and
if demolished will be the tallest building to be knocked down in
the U.K. It is also one of the three major buildings they occupy
in Southwark as the boroughs largest employer.
Irvine Sellar of Sellar Properties made his fortune in the sixties
in swinging London owning clothes shops on Carnaby Street. He diversified
into property and hasnt looked back since. With the skyscraper boom
that is going on opportunities have presented themselves to enterpreneurs
capable of raising the necessary funds to cash in. Sellar who has
purchased the building currently occupied by PWC plans what will
be Europes tallest skyscraper designed by reknowned architect Renzo
Tower was originally concieved by Broadway Malayan, the designers
of St Georges Wharf tower in Vauxhall. With 1265ft of cylindrical
by a spire it was set to be the third tallest building in the world
- perhaps too tall right now for London. The design got roasted
by the critics and authorities alike and so Sellar, determined to
get his super-tall went back to the drawing board, this time with
Piano concieved a building that would evoke the past as much as
the future, one that paid homage to Wren's London, a city littered
with spires. It was shorter at 1016ft / 310m but it was certainly
more graceful and soon dubbed the "shard of glass" by
Containing 600,000ft of office space, residential units to solve
the problem of small floorplates unsuitable for offices, viewing
platforms and even a high-rise pub and viewing platform at 800ft
it was something new for London.
The skyscraper though was tied in part to London Bridge Station,
one of Network Rails most congested and dated and the relationship
between the station redevelopment and are symbiotic. No station
redevelopment will hamper, if not prevent completely the construction
of the tower which relies in part on the upgrade of the transport
Public Inquiry and planning process.
Thanks to it's height of breaking through the 1000 foot barrier
this skyscraper raised eyebrows from the moment it was first revealed.
Design revisions and input from CABE were invaluable in seeing it
through the planning process at Southwark where it was approved
last April by the planning board.
English Heritage and other conservation bodies though are opposed
to its construction. Some cite the historic feel of Southwark which
they say will be destroyed by such a building (although they neglect
to mention the current dingy skyscrapers blighting the landscape)
whilst E.H themselves oppose London Bridge Tower on the grounds
that it is visible from inside a disused courtyard in the Tower
of London and will "pierce the heart of London like glass spike".
Tower 42 is also visible from inside the Tower of London but again
this is not an issue to E.H.
Listening to their complaints the Secretary of State for the Environment
has called in the project to a public inquiry which means the planning
decision taken by Southwark in approving LBT will be scrutinised
in a courtroom-like atmosphere with both sides making depositions.
The inquiry will be held at 10:00 on 15 April 2003 and is expected
to last for 12 days. The Inspector currently nominated to hold the
local inquiry is Mr John Gray DipArch MSc Registered Architect.If
you wish to give evidence at the inquiry you should attend on the
first morning, to assist the Inspector in determining the order
The inquiry will then do a report and send it to the Secretary of
State as advice, it is very very likely that the Secretary of State
will follow the advice of the inquiry.
The opposition to the tower stems mostly from the same principles
E.H have been applying to other skyscrapers they have opposed such
as 110 Bishopsgate, an inquiry they recently lost. Their opposition
was at best flimsy and at worst patronising with such wonderful
arguments as "London Bridge Tower is too good for Southwark".
Sellar Properties got full approval at the inquiry as a result of
the flimsiness of the opposing case and the outstanding quality
of the proposed building. The Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott
ruled that just because the tower was tall this was no reason to
The purchase of neighbouring London Bridge House by Sellar Properties
has further enhanced their plans for the area and it looks as if
they plan to masterplan it now with LBT as their focal point.
Demolition on the existing London Bridge Tower should start next
year with construction on LBT itself beginning in 2005. PWC are
said to be interested in much of the office space, and by then we
will certainly be in the next economic cycle with the current redunancies
they are carrying out having no effect.
No doubt London Bridge Tower will be a massive success, and a building
to rival Swiss REs new headquarters on the world stage. With clusters
scattered around Southwark, the City and Canary Wharf one of the
most expansive and with buildings of this quality London is certainly
going to have one of the most ambitious skylines of the future.