Plans to demolish a row of historic shops, offices and warehouses in Borough High Street to make way for a hotel and shops have been approved by Southwark Council.
The site at 127-143 Borough High Street is owned by King's College London. For many years the structurally fragile buildings were supported by scaffolding which restricted the width of the pavement.
Two years ago the college – in response to a community campaign – installed new internal structural supports to improve the appearance of the parade.
Last year King's College staged a public exhibition of the plans drawn up by LTS Architects. The new development will include retail outlets, a 100 bedroom hotel and a student gym available to the public.
The college argues that the hotel will provide useful accommodation for academics visiting the Guy's campus.
A revised version of last year's proposals was considered by Southwark's planning committee this week. Planning officers recommended approval of the scheme despite opposition from a long list of conservation groups.
Although the site is within the Borough High Street conservation area, the college proposes to demolish the buildings at numbers 129 to 143. Number 127, a grade II listed building which includes a newsagent, will be retained and restored.
The structures to be demolished are associated with the Nag's Head and Spur Inn yards. One is a low-ceiling hop store which has been unused for at least 50 years. The frontages include the former Shoefayre shop.
During Elizabeth I's reign, Spur Inn was owned by William Emerson whose son Thomas is recalled by Emerson Street on Bankside.
Cobbles, stone cart tracks and some protective timbers from the current buildings will be incorporated into the development.
Committee member Cllr Mark Gettleson observed that Spur Inn Yard was very attractive and said that it should be preserved.
English Heritage "strongly objected" to the scheme. The Georgian Group submission warned that the proposals would result "in the loss of two historic structures that make a positive contribution to the conservation area".
The Victorian Society described the plan as "an extremely harmful scheme that would at a stroke destroy a sizeable portion of Southwark's historic landscape".
Architect Benedict O'Looney, appearing before the planning committee to oppose the proposals, claimed that Borough High Street dated from Roman times and was the country's first high street.
But the scheme's Bermondsey-based architect Paul Conibere said that the network of streets was more important than the facades.
At the start of the discussion, Cllr Adele Morris expressed concern that the conservation officer who had been present for an earlier agenda item was not available to answer questions on this application.
The committee resolved to approve applications for planning permission, listed building consent and conservation area consent.
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