Scheme at 72 Upper Ground was given green light by Michael Gove last month

A campaign group has formally begun a legal challenge against Michael Gove’s approval of Make’s 72 Upper Ground scheme on London’s South Bank.

It comes after Save Our South Bank (SOSB), a collective of campaign groups which oppose the controversial office project, had said earlier this month they were looking to hand in a legal submission to the High Court challenging the communities secretary’s decision.

The scheme, described by SOSB as ‘The Slab’, was approved by Lambeth council and London mayor Sadiq Khan in 2022 but called in by Gove’s predecessor Greg Clark later that year.

ITV Make 9

Opponents have said the scheme is too big for its surrounds

Designed for developers CO-RE and Mitsubishi Estate, it is one of the biggest construction projects in the capital and would see ITV’s former 24-storey studios at 72 Upper Ground demolished and replaced by two blocks of 26 and 13 storeys.

The £400m construction contract is due to be carried out by Lendlease with the overall development costing £700m.

The campaign group says Gove’s decision on 72 Upper Ground was “legally flawed” because it contradicts Lambeth council’s local plan, which had zoned the area for mixed-use projects. Make’s proposals for the site would be almost entirely office space.

Opponents say Gove “misinterpreted planning policy and failed to recognise the requirement to deliver housing as part of the development”. They are also challenging on heritage grounds, in particular the scheme’s impact on protected views.

After the official submission of legal documents, the High Court has three months to decide whether there is a case for a judicial review.

If it decides there is, it will then book in a hearing which would likely take place this autumn and last one or two days. If the court decides to quash Gove’s ruling, the government will then need to make the decision again.

The campaign group added that it needs to raise £10,000 in legal funds by 13 April with £1,500 so far pledged.