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Controversy mounts over Courage Yard plan for Tower Bridge Piazza

A group which campaigns to preserve 20th century architecture has objected to plans to remodel Tower Bridge Piazza on Shad Thames.

Tower Bridge Piazza
Waterfall by Antony Donaldson
The sculptural fountain - 'Waterfall' by Antony Donaldson - is to be moved to the much smaller Brewery Square to the south
Controversy mounts over Courage Yard plan for Tower Bridge Piazza

Columbia Threadneedle Property Investments, the new owners of Tower Bridge Piazza, have applied to Southwark Council for planning permission to reconfigure the space and build a new pavilion on what is currently open space.

The plans include the relocation of Antony Donaldson's Waterfall fountain sculpture to the adjacent Brewery Square.

The new scheme includes changes to the colour scheme. TP Bennett, the architects who have drawn up the new plans, claim that "the existing cold palette is also not appropriate in cool North European light".

The planning application – 15/AP/4699 – has attracted more than 30 objections even though it has yet to be formally validated by council officers.

The latest objection is from the Twentieth Century Society, a national charity that champions post-1914 architecture.

In a letter to Southwark Council, senior conservation adviser Henrietta Billings writes that the buildings around the piazza – designed by Julyan Wickham – are considered to be of "high original architectural interest" and "particularly noteworthy for the round Constructivist towers".

"This site and its open space should be celebrated. We consider that the proposed changes would cause harm to the character of this development by diluting its architectural qualities.

If the proposals go ahead, the piazza will be rebranded as Courage Yard, as a nod to the brewery that once stood on the site.

"The applicant believes a name change is important to re-vitalising the area and achieving the uplift in footfall and economic prospects for the site," says Columbia Threadneedle's agent in a submission to the council.

It's not the first time the space's name has been changed: when first developed in the late 1980s it was known as Horselydown Square.

In 1986 the square was described rather optimistically in adverts placed by developer Berkeley House as "the exciting new Covent Garden of the Docklands".

Once completed, architect Piers Gough – writing about Shad Thames developments in The Times – likened Horselydown Square to "a moored fleet of luxury supertankers".

When the scheme was completed in 1991 there was only one retail tenant – a bookmaker – who arranged a visit to the square by Grand National winner Red Rum to mark the occasion.

Several small businesses in and around the piazza have recently shut their doors including Shades Piazza and Cafe Le Parisien.

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