Lambeth Council and Transport for London are to spend half a million pounds exploring the potential for a high-rise development on the site of the BFI IMAX cinema in Waterloo.
The SE1 website revealed last autumn that Lambeth Council intended to update its planning policy to allow for a tall building up to 130 metres high on the key gateway site at the southern end of Waterloo Bridge.
News of the policy change came as a surprise to many: including local councillor Kevin Craig who told the South Bank Forum that he "nearly fell off [his] chair" when he saw SE1's report on the subject.
The cinema – which opened 20 years ago – stands on land owned by the council which is held by the British Film Institute on a 150-year lease. Surrounding land is owned by Transport for London
The new planning policy has yet to receive formal approval, but this week it was revealed that the council and TfL are planning to spend £250,000 each commissioning a feasibility study into a "strategic development" on the IMAX site.
The BFI will be invited to be a consultee but will be bound by a tripartite confidentiality agreement with TfL and Lambeth.
According to a report prepared by council officers: "The Waterloo roundabout is of local and strategic importance to Lambeth and London. Any future over or adjacent development has the potential to positively transform this pivotal central London location and generate wider connectivity, movement, place-shaping economic and public benefits."
The report adds: "In the years ahead Lambeth, along with other councils in England, will no longer be funded by central government grant and instead will be reliant on local business rates and council tax. A key component of the Council's strategy is therefore to position Lambeth for more commercial-led development. A development in this location responds to this strategic challenge."
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