Morris+Company gets green light for Southwark student block

Source:Secchi Smith

Sellar already had previously won planning permission in 2020 for an Allies and Morrison-designed, hotel-led project on the site, which would have reached as high as 13 storeys. The developer has ‘implemented’ this permission by knocking down a building on the site but has changed direction with the new plans.

Credit: Morris+Company

Project details

Credit: Morris+Company


‘Through a holistic programme, including affordable key worker housing, affordable workspace and a new pocket park, the proposal ensures it will benefit the surrounding community of Southwark.’

Architect Morris +Company
Development manager Sellar
Local authority Southwark Council
Project manager Gardiner & Theobold
Landscape architect Andy Sturgeon
Planning consultant DP9
Townscape and heritage Tavernor
Services engineering Skelly & Couch
Structural and civil engineer Walsh
Ecology and sustainability Scotch Partners
EIA consultant Trium
Communication and consultation Kanda
Student housing consultant Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson
Air quality consultant Sweco
Daylight/sunlight consultant Point2
Traffic and transport consultant WSP
Cost consultant Gardiner & Theobold
Fire consultant OFR
Acoustic consultant Clarke Saunders
Wind consultant RWDI
Principal designer Gardiner & Theobold
Visual impact assessment Miller Hare

Sellar will pay the council at least £13.6 million for social housing in Southwark, in lieu of providing any itself, and will also carry out a £600,000 refurbishment of the Rockingham community centre in a nearby council estate.

The new blocks, on a 0.3ha site at the corner of Borough High Street and Harper Street, will include 444 student homes and eight intermediate-rent flats that can be used by NHS staff, police officers, teachers, social workers, firefighters and ambulance workers.

An objection came from the Metropolitan Police, which said the building could impinge on the privacy and light on holding cells in the neighbouring Borough police station. Although Southwark Council planners said that a daylight and sunlight assessment showed this was true, they said the impact was similar to the existing, approved scheme. Officers added that the windows facing the police station would have to be fixed shut and obscure-glazed

Other local people objected to the height of the new buildings and a feared loss of privacy and sunlight. Some objected to the loss of space for Hotel Elephant, which they described as ‘important affordable workspace for creatives’. Hotel Elephant runs four other spaces within a few miles of the Harper Road site.

The latest scheme will involve knocking down a three-storey terrace fronting on to Borough High Street, and a probation office and office building on Harper Road. The office building is currently used as a meanwhile space by Hotel Elephant, an culture and arts affordable workspace provider.

Morris+Company director and housing lead Miranda MacLaren said: ‘We are delighted with the planning decision, our design focused on sustainable homes paired with generous inclusive communal and public amenity spaces, enhancing the wellbeing for its residents, workers, and visitors.

The buildings will be five, seven, eight, nine and eleven storeys. The development, for developer Sellar, will also include 2,124m2 of flexible commercial space, a 249m2 ‘pocket park’, three roof gardens and two rooftop pavilions.

Meanwhile, a decision on a Morris+Company office-led development in Islington was recently postponed, with planning officers asking the practice to provide more information on the whole life carbon cycle of the scheme.