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Boris calls for new open space on Blackfriars rail bridge pillars

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has urged the developers of the Ludgate House and Sampson House sites to incorporate a new use for the redundant pillars of Blackfriars Railway Bridge in their scheme.

Blackfriars pillars
The pillars were used as platforms for equipment during the recent rebuilding of Blackfriars Station
Boris calls for new open space on Blackfriars rail bridge pillars
Boris Johnson has suggested that the developers of the Ludgate House and Sampson House sites should incorporate the redundant bridge piers into their scheme (image by dbox branding & creative)

Last autumn Carlyle Group submitted a planning application for the demolition and redevelopment of Ludgate House on Blackfriars Road and Sampson House on Hopton Street. The scheme includes a 48-storey tower on the southern approach to Blackfriars Bridge.

The scheme was presented to Mayor of London Boris Johnson at City Hall last week for his initial comments before Southwark's planning committee makes a decision on the application.

In a letter to Southwark Council summarising Mr Johnson's comments, Greater London Authority planning decisions manager Colin Wilson wrote that "...the Mayor expressed a strong view that further consideration must be given to the provision of additional public benefit in the form of an open space or other use on the redundant pillars on the Thames".

The piers were built in 1864 for the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. The bridge they carried was dismantled in 1984.

One row of the pillars has been incorporated into the widened railway bridge for the expansion of Blackfriars Station in connection with Network Rail's Thameslink Programme.

A proposal for a combined green bridge and cycle route at Blackfriars was submitted to the 'High Line for London' ideas competition held last year and backed by Mr Johnson.

The idea of linking the redevelopment of Ludgate House and Sampson House with the reuse of the bridge pillars has also been raised by Southwark's conservation areas advisory group.

According to the minutes of the group's January meeting, "One day, as has been proposed before, these piers could be formed into a linear public space uniting both banks of the river, akin to the celebrated High Line in New York City."

The CAAG minutes continue: "This could be a new 'inhabited bridge' for London one day, helping further connect Southwark with the City of London."

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