It's nearly two years since Lambeth councillors approved plans by Mitsubishi Estate for a new office building on the prominent South Bank site between Blackfriars Bridge and Waterloo Bridge.
The scheme - designed by MAKE architects - would replace the 1970s block built for London Weekend Television and later the headquarters of ITV plc.
In September 2022 the Government ordered an inquiry into the proposals, and a planning inspector heard 11 days of evidence in December 2022 and January 2023.
This week levelling up secretary Michael Gove approved the development.
Although Mr Gove endorsed the overall conclusion of the planning inspector that permission should be granted, the Government's formal decision letter notes that "he does not consider that the proposed palette of materials and the aesthetic appearance of the building is appropriate for what is a very prominent and sensitive site" and that he "disagrees with the inspector that an attractive development would be delivered".
Mr Gove is said to have concluded "that the public benefits of the proposal do outweigh the harm to designated heritage assets".
Mitsubishi Estate London acquired the site from ITV in 2019 for £145.6 million .
“We are delighted to hear that DLUHC has approved our transformational plans for 72 Upper Ground and the South Bank," said Shinichi Kagitomi, CEO of Mitsubishi Estate London and Stephen Black, director at CO—RE in a joint statement.
"Through all stages of the planning process there has been strong recognition of the fantastic addition that 72 Upper Ground will make to the South Bank and to London.
"Local young creative groups, Lambeth Council, the GLA and now DLUHC have all backed our proposals for a high-quality commercial and arts-led development befitting of one of London’s most famous destinations."
The added: “We understand and respect the responsibilities that come with building a major new development in this prominent part of central London. We are looking forward to working with our cultural neighbours and the wider community to deliver an outstanding building that makes a significant positive contribution to its place.”
The development had been opposed by local campaigners including Coin Street Community Builders, owners of the adjacent Gabriel's Wharf site.
Coin Street's David Hopkins said: “It is extremely disappointing that the Secretary of State has decided to approve the Mitsubishi Estate building on 72 Upper Ground, disparagingly known as the “Slab”
“Given the reservations Mr Gove clearly has about this development, particularly the way its design will impact on the iconic skyline of London’s South Bank, it is hard to understand why he has chosen to let it go ahead."
He added: “For three years, our community campaign, led by dedicated residents, volunteers, and allies, has passionately opposed these misguided plans because of the vast bulk of the scheme and the lack of any much-needed housing.
"We all care deeply about our neighbourhood. This monstrosity of an office development will change what it feels like to live around and visit the South Bank, robbing natural daylight from local people’s homes and casting the South Bank riverside walk into shadow.
“We will work to make sure the wellbeing of our community is considered as this development progresses and continue to fight for the soul of our neighbourhood.”