Elephant & Castle office block: Lendlease wins appeal

Proposals for an 18-storey office block at the Elephant & Castle - which could also accommodate local NHS services - have been approved on appeal by a planning inspector.

Elephant & Castle office block: Lendlease wins appeal

The site at the corner of Walworth Road and Elephant Road - just yards from Elephant & Castle Railway Station - was previously green open space attached to the Heygate Estate.

More recently it has been used for 'The Artworks' temporary shops, restaurants and library. Part of the site is currently used by the 'Crate to Plate' urban farm.

Whilst Lendlease's 2013 outline planning permission for the redevelopment of the Heygate Estate as Elephant Park envisaged residential use of the corner site, the Australian firm instead put forward office proposals designed by ACME architects.

The scheme – which one councillor said "looks like Ayers Rock has landed on Elephant & Castle" – was unanimously rejected by Southwark Council's planning committee in October last year.

The proposed development incorporates an NHS health hub which - among other services - could effectively replace the local Nexus GP surgery premises at Princess Street and Manor Place.

Lendlease appealed against Southwark Council's decision to reject the scheme and an eight-day public inquiry was held in September this year.

Local planning and housing campaigners more accustomed to challenging Southwark Council found themselves in an unusual position during the inquiry, arguing on the same side as the local authority's lawyers against the Lendlease scheme.

Last week planning inspector Paul Griffiths published his decision, upholding Lendlease's appeal and granting planning permission for the development.

Mr Griffiths wrote: I conclude that the proposal would provide a design of very high quality that would have a significantly positive impact on the character and appearance of the area and its impact on the living conditions of neighbouring residents would be within reasonable bounds.

"At the same time, the scheme would accord with policy expectations in relation to use of the site and floor-space on Plot H1."

Earlier in his report Mr Griffiths had commented: "The impression I gained from looking around Elephant Park is of a development that is technically very well done, but somewhat dry. The buildings share a common language, but there is nothing that stands apart, as a focal point.

"I do not suggest that is necessarily a failing of the development, nor that continuing in the same idiom would be a mistake, in design terms, but it does mean that there is the potential to provide a pleasing contrast or counterpoint on Plot H1."

Tags: Planning & Development, Elephant & Castle, Southwark, Politics & local government

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