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Boris Rejects Elizabeth House Replacements

Boris Johnson has made his first move against tall buildings, rejecting the planned replacements by Allies and Morrison for Elizabeth House in London.

The plans are being developed by P&O to replace the property they own next to Waterloo Station. Standing on the South Bank in London it occupies a prime spot near the northern exit of the station and the London Eye.

The scheme features a 28 floor building with 61,000 square metre of office space and ground floor retail of about 800 square metres of ground floor retail. There will also be a 22 floor office block with 48,000 square metres of office space and 1,600 square metres of ground floor and first floor retail. The other building is a new 33 floor residential tower offering 274 new apartments.

At ground level the site is completely overhauled with improved pedestrian permeability through it to Waterloo Station and some interesting views when looking straight up thanks to the slight feeling of motion between the office towers which twist moderately as they rise.

Perhaps in a concession to the realisation a rejection might happen, Allies and Morrison had gone back to the drawing board and moderately amended their plans adding semi-transparent fašade overruns and varying the cladding slightly more on the buildings but the wall of towers remained largely unchanged.

Boris's decision is unlikely to be unpopular with London's general public, even if the developer feels they have dispassionately ticked all the necessary boxes to get their scheme through a planning system that often does not consider aesthetic merit in the same manner the man-in-the-street would.

The wall-like appearance of the towers is ironically thanks to the developer wanting to get as much possible out of a site that has strict height constraints. The end result is the way they dominated the South Bank has wowed few architecture fans whilst the fact they were visible behind Big Ben when viewed from Parliament Square outraged the heritage lobby who prefer an unobstructed back-drop of sky.

Johnson's rejection still tells us little about the Mayor's overall approach to tall buildings as this is an easy project to reject. The real judge will be when a contentious scheme appears that has the design quality of the Shard. Will the Mayor refuse that too?

The opposition of the Mayor now makes it clear that even if Lambeth approves the project he will reject it, something they have done with a 3-2 majority. This will leave P&O with the option of appealing against the Mayor's decision and taking it all the way to an expensive public inquiry.

Article Related buildings:

Elizabeth House Building A

Elizabeth House Building A
Elizabeth House Building B

Elizabeth House Building B
Elizabeth House Building C

Elizabeth House Building C
Elizabeth House Waterloo
Elizabeth House Waterloo