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Elizabeth House: High Court dismisses challenge to Waterloo tower

A legal challenge against the development of a 29-storey tower next to Waterloo Station has been dismissed by a High Court judge.

Elizabeth House: High Court dismisses challenge to Waterloo tower

English Heritage and Westminster City Council launched judicial review proceedings against Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government, over his decision not to order a public inquiry into the redevelopment of Elizabeth House in York Road.

Lambeth Council approved the proposed development – designed by David Chipperfield – in November 2012.

Objectors to the scheme contend that it will affect views of the Palace of Westminster – a world heritage site – from Parliament Square.

A High Court hearing was held earlier this month and Mr Justice Collins's judgement – dismissing the claim – was published on Friday.

Mr Justice Collins was strongly critical of letters sent by officials at the Department for Communities and Local Government which he described as "badly drafted" and "obviously wrong".

He found that, contrary to the assertions made by civil servants, the planning application did raise issues of national and international significance – but that it does not follow automatically that the scheme should be the subject of a public inquiry.

The judge wrote: "There can be no doubt the development of the site is highly desirable. It will provide a much needed boost to employment at Waterloo and improved access to the station which will ameliorate the present congestion."

In a statement, the developers said: "We are delighted with this outcome which clears the way for a planning permission.

"What is most important now is that the Elizabeth House regeneration is delivered for Waterloo, Lambeth and London.

"For too long Waterloo has lacked the investment and modern office stock to attract business to the area and these plans will create 8,700 much needed new jobs and transform the public realm around Waterloo Station used by tens of millions of people each year."

Cllr Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, said: "The judge has outlined serious concerns in how the Elizabeth House judicial review application has been dealt with.

"In light of this, and the new evidence that UNESCO would consider placing the world heritage site on the endangered list, we would urge Lambeth Council to reconsider the application as the judge suggests.

"In doing this we would welcome a constructive dialogue with all parties as we believe there are revisions to the design which would serve to both protect the vital heritage of London and still create an excellent new building and employment opportunities for the capital."

The leader of Lambeth Council, Cllr Lib Peck, described the ruling as "excellent news".

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