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New design for "Baby Shard" gets green light

A new design for the so-called "Baby Shard" or "Gem" development in London Bridge Street was this week approved by Southwark's planning committee.

Design for 25 London Bridge Street
The new-look design seen from Borough High Street
Previous design for 25 London Bridge Street
Abandoned: the original "Baby Shard" or "Gem" design
The existing New London Bridge House
The existing New London Bridge House
25 London Bridge Street
Another view of the new design for 25 London Bridge Street seen from Montague Close

An earlier design was approved by Southwark in April 2006 but the committee was told that the Renzo Piano Building Workshop had initiated a redesign of the scheme.

The site – currently occupied by the 25-storey New London Bridge House – is owned by CLS Holdings which is one of the partners in the main Shard of Glass project.

CLS engaged the practice of Renzo Piano, architect of the proposed Shard, to design a complementary scheme for this neighbouring site.

The developers say that the upper parts of the building have been redesigned to reduce the height (from 88m to 74m) and bulk. This has been achieved by reducing the floor-to-ceiling height of each storey.

The associated landscaping and new bus station at ground level remain unchanged.

The committee heard that the new design for 25 London Bridge Street aims to connect the Shard (London Bridge Tower) to the east and the tower of Southwark Cathedral to the west rather than being an "iconic building" in its own right.

A green roof terrace at level 13 will be visible from Borough High Street.

Councillors were unimpressed by the revised scheme. Planning committee chairman Cllr James Gurling (Lib Dem) said that the new design was "very disappointing" and "a much more ugly version" of the development approved last year.

Cllr Robin Crookshank Hilton (Conservative) regretted the loss of the "sexy curve" seen in the previous scheme.

Despite their misgivings, committee members resolved to grant planning permission.

Final planning permission is subject to the direction of the Mayor of London and the signing of a Section 106 agreement.

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