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Blackfriars skyscraper zone: councillors order rethink

Southwark Council's executive has voted against designating Blackfriars Road as a zone for skyscrapers and has asked officers to redraft the consultation document on tall buildings.

The draft Tall Buildings Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) proposes areas that could be designated as suitable for tall buildings. London Bridge and the Elephant & Castle are already identified in the London Plan as suitable areas and the draft SPD adds the area around Blackfriars Road and Blackfriars Bridge.

On Tuesday night Southwark's Lib Dem executive requested that the document be redrafted to restrict the areas identified as suitable to those already outlined in the London Plan and enhance the consultation process.

"We understand the advantages of tall buildings in the right communities, but we cannot allow something that gives carte blanche to developers to build very tall buildings around Blackfriars," said Cllr Jeff Hook, executive member for regeneration.

"It is vital that we take the local community's views into account at this early stage, before it's too late. Once new planning guidelines come into effect, it is very difficult for members to go against it – even if that's what local stakeholders want.

"Guidance on tall buildings is an important tool, but we must not tie our own hands. We have to think about what benefits very tall buildings actually bring to the local area; this has to be our first priority."

The Blackfriars Road area is already the subject of Beetham's proposed 78-storey tower, and other developments by Land Securities are in the pipeline. Last week a site on Blackfriars Road changed hands for 11 million with a planning application expected next year.

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