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Design watchdog fails to back Doon Street Tower

London SE1 website team

Design watchdog CABE has warned that Coin Street Community Builders' Doon Street Tower will 'highly compromise' the listed Somerset House across the river.

Doon Street Tower
The proposed Doon Street Tower on the South Bank

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment has published its design review of the revised Doon Street Tower scheme. CABE says that it is "unable" to support the scheme as it would "detract from the setting of the grade I listed" Somerset House.

"We welcome CABE's conclusion that 'this is clearly an intelligent, high quality building, which could bring a largely derelict space into active use and provide much needed facilities to the local community'," says Iain Tuckett, Coin Street Community Builders' group director.

"We note that CABE's detailed assessment applauds the design of the terrace and concludes that the form, materials and details of the tower meet the criteria of the London View Management Framework and that CABE has no concerns about the principle of the tower in the view from St James's Park or its impact on the National Theatre.

"We have reduced the height of the tower by 28 metres so that it is no longer visible from the courtyard of Somerset House. CABE's only significant concern is that the tower is visible from the entrance and parts of the upper terrace of Somerset House. CABE recognise that we are a committed client which has employed highly regarded architects [Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands] to design this scheme.

"Our design team has carefully looked at the public use and experience of Somerset House and has concluded that the limited views of the tower from these higher areas are wholly acceptable."

In May Coin Street Community Builders revealed a revised design for its proposed development on the site bounded by Upper Ground, Cornwall Road, Doon Street and Waterloo Bridge. Originally a 48-storey tower, the height was cut to 43 storeys to address concerns about the impact of the new tower on views from St James' Park and Somerset House.

The scheme would provide a much-wanted swimming pool and leisure centre for local residents which would be funded by housing in the tower sold on the open market.

The proposal is controversial in some quarters because of the history of Coin Street Community Builders and the site. The social enterprise gained control of the land after a lengthy local campaign against high-rise commercial development on the South Bank.

There now seems to be a question mark over the Rambert Dance Company's proposed new home within the Doon Street complex, with the dance company apparently also considering an offer of accommodation in Oakmayne's new Bermondsey Street development on the Recall warehouse site.

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