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Rethink for Blackfriars Road tower scheme

London SE1 website team

Architect Ian Simpson has been instructed to rethink elements of his 68-storey design for the Beetham tower at 1 Blackfriars Road, it emerged this week.


Sources close to the project indicated that the operator of the hotel which will occupy a large part of the tower will be revealed within the next month.

The rethink will address concerns identified by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and others about the public space at the bottom of the tower and the effect of the density of the development on the streetscape.

A public exhibition of the revised proposals is expected after May's local government elections.

Building Design magazine this week reported that Lambeth Council had joined the City of Westminster in objecting to the plan.

CABE, though broadly supportive of the scheme, identified a number of concerns including the large overhang of the building above the corner of Stamford Street and Blackfriars Road.

Southwark design and conservation manager Julie Greer told Building Design: "It will effectively be a new scheme ... you see that overhang arrangement with hotels but for a [largely] residential scheme, you just can't do that. That part of the scheme is being taken away… the architects are being very co-operative."

Sources close to the scheme suggest that the as yet unnamed hotel operator has also requested changes to the base of the tower to better meet its requirements.

One way of reducing the density of the lower part of the development would be to move the required element of affordable housing away from the site, a move that Southwark Council and the Mayor of London are likely to back, according to sources.

It is understood that the new designs are also intended to improve public realm links between Simpson's tower and neighbouring projects, such as the remodelling of Kings Reach Tower, currently home to IPC Media. However, reports in the trade press this week suggest that Capital and Counties has put the King's Reach site up for sale with an asking price of 75 million.

Ian Simpson told Building Design: "We think it will have a positive effect on the skyline and is in an ideal place. If a building is elegant, it can stand on its own."

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