Anger at plan for massive office complex to replace historic TV studios on South Bank

A colossal building planned for one of Britain’s most visited areas is being angrily opposed by the people who will have to live with it.

Plans to demolish ITV’s historic London Studios and replace them with a mountain of office blocks, more than double their size, have drawn furious criticism from community organisations.

They are angry about the impact on daylight, sunlight and the whole character of the South Bank. Iain Tuckett, of Coin Street Community Builders, said: “The scale, bulk and siting of the proposed development is excessive, overbearing and overly dominant. “

The impacts on daylight received by adjacent Coin Street housing co-operatives will be severe.

“The riverside walkway and gardens to the north of the proposed development currently enjoy sunshine throughout the lunchtime peak and afternoon, but would be cast into shadow by this development.

The wanton disregard of the South Bank, one of London’s most popular amenities, is unacceptable and short-sighted.”

Michael Ball, of the Waterloo Community Development Group, which led the campaign against the Garden Bridge, said: “The Government’s Building Beautiful Commission called for an overt focus on beauty and refusing ugliness as a primary purpose of the planning system.

“National planning policy puts the creation of beautiful and sustainable buildings and places at the heart of the planning process.

“These proposals are grotesquery on steroids, a swollen deformity for the South Bank.”

South Bank & Waterloo Neighbours (SoWN), which was created to make sure local people were involved in the planning process, has written to Lambeth council to say: “The mass of the proposed building would be overbearing when experienced from neighbouring streets and public spaces.

The proposed building would dominate the local street scene and the conservation area to their detriment.

“The scale and form of the building would cause harm to important local heritage assets, such as the South Bank conservation area, the IBM Building, the National Theatre, and the Roupell Street conservation area.

“The proposed building would result in a significant loss of daylight for a number of local residents. “The proposed building would result in a very significant loss of sunlight across important public spaces, primarily the Queen’s Walk and Bernie Spain Gardens”.

The site, in Upper Ground, where some of the best known shows in British television were made, is to be turned into a multimillion pound office and culture complex.

The complex was home to programmes such as Good Morning Britain and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, as well as BBC productions such as The Graham Norton Show and Have I Got News For You, before it was demolished in 2018.

Only five years ago, ITV Studios hosted This Morning, Loose Women, Lorraine and Good Morning Britain. 

A 26-storey office building and two lower rise blocks are planned in a development by architects MAKE, submitted by new owners Mitsubishi Estate and developers CO-RE.

Historic England and the Twentieth Century Society had already raised concerns about views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the impact on Somerset House, the National Theatre and other listed buildings.

The plot was bought by Mitsubishi Estate and CO-RE for £145.6m in November 2019.

The application was submitted to Lambeth council in July 2021. It plans a total office space of 900,000 sq ft, cafes and restaurants, and arts and cultural venues, as well as two new public squares.

The office space will have capacity for up to 5,000 people, new green space on the ground floor and a rooftop restaurant and terrace.

Yuichiro Shioda, from Mitsubishi Estate, said earlier this year: “It is absolutely vital to us that we share and discuss our plans with the people that make up the South Bank community.

Understanding their views will be crucial to making sure that this new building can be a place that the community can enjoy, and that local businesses can reap the rewards from increased footfall during this difficult time.”

Stephen Black, from CO-RE, said: “The development at 72 Upper Ground has the potential to give a real boost to the South Bank, bringing new jobs, investment and cultural spaces to one of London’s most famous landmarks.

“We are confident that this is a scheme that encompasses the very best of the South Bank and complements the existing area.”




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