Go HomeLondon Bridge Tower.

It's 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.

The Development.
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 Piano.

Project Details.

London Bridge Tower was originally concieved by Broadway Malayan, the designers of St Georges Wharf tower in Vauxhall. With 1265ft of cylindrical glass topped 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 Renzo Piano.
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 the press.
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 infrastructure.

The 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 of appearances.
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.

Future Prospects.
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 approve it.

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.


The original...

...and the new.
Building specs.
Office Tower.
Height - 1016ft/ 310m
Floors - 66
Start date - 2004
Completion - 2008