Make’s South Bank tower decision is postponed for a third time

Gove said the decision – which was supposed to be announced tomorrow (6 December) – will now be made on or before 6 February.

The huge Thamesside London development was the subject of a public inquiry that finished in January this year. A decision was originally due on 8 August, but that deadline was pushed back to 6 October 6 and then delayed again until 6 December.

Make’s proposal features two towers of 14 and 25 storeys, with a six-storey connecting podium. It would provide 79,000m2 of office and associated commercial space, as well as 7,000m2 of cultural space and up to 4,000m2 of space for shops, cafés and bars.

The communities secretary has indicated he needs another two months to consider the outcome of the public inquiry, meaning his ruling is now scheduled to arrive more than a year after the inquiry completed.

The application was originally approved by Lambeth Council in March 2022, despite more than 260 objections including from local councillors and the local MP. It received secondary approval from the Greater London Authority (GLA) on behalf of London mayor Sadiq Khan.

The former MP for Vauxhall, Kate Hoey, and the area’s current MP, Florence Eshalomi, both lobbied the government to call in the proposal, which involves the demolition of the existing ITV studios on the prominent 1ha site.

Gove set up a possible call-in in April 2022, during his first stint as head of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC), by means of a so-called Article 31 holding notice. Greg Clark, who served as communities secretary between July and September 2022, officially called in the scheme before Gove’s return to the department.

While Clark was in the job, the department wrote to Lambeth Council about the heritage implications of the Make scheme and whether certain aspects, including its ‘scale and massing’, were consistent with government planning policy on conserving and enhancing the historic environment.

Source:Make Architects

View along Queen’s Walk at National Theatre

The Twentieth Century Society also contacted Clark to object to the proposal, which it said would be an ‘over-development’ of the site. It said the scheme would ‘significantly harm’ the setting of Denys Lasdun’s Grade II*-listed National Theatre and Grade II-listed IBM Building, and have ‘a profoundly detrimental effect on the special character and appearance of the riverfront site’.

The society said Gove ‘faces a stark choice: respect the unique setting, heritage and dynamism of the Southbank, or green-light a universally derided development that will cause irreversible damage to this iconic London location.’

Statutory consultee Historic England had similarly concluded the project would harm nearby listed buildings, telling the AJ last year it was concerned about the height and bulk of the new buildings and particular harm to the Roupell Street Conservation Area, and river views of the IBM Building, Somerset House, and National Theatre (Grade II, I and II* listed respectively).

Sadiq Khan declined to intervene in the project and the planning decision was delegated to deputy mayor Jules Pipe. GLA officers praised the design quality of the Make scheme, insisting it was ‘designed to be sympathetic to its historic neighbours’.

Responding to the original decision to call in the project last September, a spokesperson for developer Mitsubishi Estate London and development manager CO–RE said they remained ‘fully committed’ to the new build, which they said had the support of ‘local young creative groups, planning officers, Lambeth councillors and the GLA’.

They added: ‘We are obviously very disappointed that the start of construction will be delayed with the creation of thousands of jobs postponed and hope this process moves forward quickly.’