Save London’s South Bank campaigners launch legal battle against Government over huge development block

A community campaign group has launched a legal challenge against the Government over its decision to approve planning permission for a huge development on the South Bank, despite a three-year community campaign by residents.

72 Upper Ground, a 25-floor office block planned for the former ITV studio site in Upper Ground, South Bank, has been criticised by campaigners, who say it will “obliterate” the skyline.

ITV’s former studios at 72 Upper Ground would be bulldozed and replaced with offices, restaurants, shops and a new gallery under the developers’ plans for the site.

The campaign group, Save Our South Bank, is currently seeking support for a judicial review to halt the construction.

CGI of planned development from the South Bank (Picture: Make Architects)

Campaign member Michael Ball, 61, of West Norwood, said: “The development not only threatens the enjoyment of millions walking the South Bank, as well as multiple protected views of national heritage, but also undermines efforts to address our city’s housing crisis while needlessly emitting more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2. 

“It is an extraordinary feat of self-harm.”

The plans, developed by Mitsubishi Estate London and CO-RE, were approved by Lambeth council at a meeting in March 2022.

But Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Leveling Up Housing and Communities, ordered a public inquiry into the plans following opposition from campaigners, Labour MP Florence Eshalomi and South Bank councillors.

The inquiry’s inspector recommended that the application should be approved, and planning permission granted, subject to conditions.

While Mr Gove said he had “a different view on some matters” to the inspector, overall, he decided to grant permission on February 6.

Mr Ball said: “Gove’s decision, following the High Court decision, threatens to render vital policy toothless. Our legal challenge may be the last chance to retrieve this catastrophe”. 

In his decision, Mr Gove noted the proposal would deliver “substantial benefits” through the delivery of new public squares and that it would “increase opportunities to appreciate more of the South Bank’s heritage assets” from new vantage points.

A spokesman from the the Deptartment for Levelling Up Housing and Communities said: “We have received a Pre-Action Protocol letter from “Save Our South Bank”, which indicates it is considering challenging the decision through the Courts.

“We are considering its contents and will reply to the letter in due course. The Secretary of State’s decision was in line with the recommendation of the independent Inspector who oversaw the inquiry.”

To donate to the campaign visit:

Pictured top: A view of the planned South Bank development from Waterloo Bridge (Picture: Make Architects)

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