Project team sweating on decision by communities secretary over possible call in

Building work at the former ITV headquarters on London’s South Bank remains on hold – despite a decision this week by the Greater London Authority not to call the scheme in.

In May, it emerged Lendlease had won a £400m contract to redevelop the site at 72 Upper Ground making it one of the biggest building jobs in central London to be let this year.

But a few days later, Michael Gove, then the secretary of state at the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities, issued an order stopping demolition work at the site.

Designed by Make, the plans were given the green light by Lambeth council at the end of March, although a Lambeth planning report recommending it for approval admitted they were “controversial and extremely unpopular”.

72 upper ground

The scheme at 72 Upper Ground includes a 26-storey tower

The effect of Gove’s so-called Article 31 notice was to stop demolition firm McGee from beginning work to tear down the 1970s building as well as give him the final say on whether to refer it to a planning inquiry.

In an update yesterday, the DLUHC said: “On 22 August 2022, the Greater London Authority confirmed that they were content for the application to remain with Lambeth borough. A decision [by secretary of state Greg Clark] on whether or not to call in this application will be made in due course.”

In this week’s letter to Lambeth council, Jules Pipe, deputy mayor of London for planning, regeneration and skills, wrote: “Having now considered a report on this case, I am content to allow the local planning authority to determine the case itself, subject to any action that the secretary of state may take, and do not therefore wish to direct refusal or take over the application for my own determination.”

A spokesman for the 72 Upper Ground scheme, which is being developed by Mitsubishi Estate and CO-RE, confirmed: “There’s no current timetable for a decision to be made. The Article 31 issued by DLUHC puts a hold on construction starting.”

The plot was bought by Mitsubishi and development manager CO-RE for close to £150m in November 2019.

Their plans would see ITV’s London studios tower flattened and replaced with two 26- and 13-storey office towers connected by a six-storey podium. Responding to Pipe’s letter, CO-RE director Stephen Black said: “We’re very pleased that the GLA and Lambeth council have both recommended for approval a building that will bring investment, over 4,000 new jobs, and new workspace to one of London’s most famous destinations.”

Known as Project Vista, Lendlease pipped Sir Robert McAlpine and Laing O’Rourke to the deal. Others working on the job include QS Alinea, landscape architect Grant Associates and engineer Arup.