Out-Law News 1 min. read

Pickles calls in Shell Centre and Smithfield Market plans

Secretary of State (SoS) for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles has called in proposals for two major London redevelopment schemes to be determined by him.

Proposals by joint venture partners Canary Wharf Group and Qatari Diar Group for a mixed-use redevelopment of the 3.5 hectare Shell Centre site near Waterloo Station on London's South Bank will now be referred to an independent inquiry before the SoS issues his decision.

The SoS said in a letter sent to Lambeth Council, seen by Out-Law.com, that the public inquiry would focus on the design of the scheme and its potential threat to the World Heritage site at Westminster.

The proposals were approved by Lambeth Council in May and subsequently by Mayor of London Boris Johnson in July. Under the plans, the existing 1950s 27-storey Shell Tower will remain in place and eight buildings ranging between five and 37 storeys in height will be constructed, comprising up to 877 new homes office space, shops, restaurants and cafes.

The scheme also includes construction of new pedestrian routes to improve connections between Waterloo Station and the South Bank, including a widened approach to the London Eye and a 'city square' to provide open space and enhanced public realm.

Lambeth Council said in a statement that it was "bitterly disappointed" at Pickles' decision to call in the plans. “The redevelopment of the Shell Centre will bring jobs, homes and new open spaces to the area," said Council leader Lib Peck. 

"Shell is one of Britain’s largest and most important employers and will act as a catalyst for further jobs and economic activity in Waterloo. Calling in the decision is not only bitterly disappointing but means further delays to  economic growth  and sends the wrong message to developers who are prepared to invest in and work with local communities,” Peck added.

Pickles has also called in Henderson Global Investor's proposals for a £160 million redevelopment of the former Smithfield Market in London's EC1.

The application was approved by the City of London in July. The plans had been subject to objections from a number of bodies, including campaign group SAVE Britain's Heritage. In April this year, conservation body English Heritage wrote to the City of London expressing its support for the proposals.

"The conservation led planning application for the largely disused buildings in West Smithfield is the only realistic, viable and funded scheme which can bring these historic buildings back into use and deliver a proper long term sustainable balance of redevelopment, restoration and retention," said Henderson in a statement.

“This balanced approach has been supported by the City of London, English Heritage, the GLA and CABE as it retains the vast majority of the existing Victorian market buildings and brings them back into viable use," it added.

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