Two proposed 25-storey towers on Albert Embankment will be built as a 600-room hotel instead of the previously proposed residential scheme after a switch in uses won the backing of Lambeth councillors on Tuesday night.
Lambeth's planning applications committee voted 5 to 1 that planning permission should be granted for the scheme, which is near identical to the residential scheme approved for the Texaco petrol station site almost three years ago.
"Softening residential values, slowing rates of sale and significant supply of new housing in the vicinity, including at The Corniche, The Dumont and Merano have all been factors which have prevented us from bringing forward the consented residential scheme," said developers Ocubis at their public consultation event last summer.
Principal planning officer Greg Woodford told councillors that the twin towers – designed by Make for the original residential scheme but altered to hotel use by Jestico + Whiles – "exhibit design excellence" and should be granted permission.
Under questioning from councillors, Lambeth head of design and conservation Doug Black defended the proposed cantilever above the adjacent Vintage House and Rose pub, two historic buildings of a much smaller scale.
"There's always going to be a relationship where the two worlds collide and this is one of them," he said.
He described the relationship between the low-rise buildings and the proposed towers as offering "a little bit of architectural drama, a little bit of architectural delight" to the experience of Albert Embankment.
Liz Mason of CBRE, representing the developer, told the committee that the hotel would help to "alleviate the constrained supply [of visitor accommodation] in this location".
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