Developer criticised for not producing any acceptable revisions during 12 months of talks

Texan developer Hondo has withdrawn the application for Adjaye Associate’s much-maligned 22-storey Brixton tower just four days before its Greater London Authority (GLA) hearing.

Hondo issued a statement yesterday evening saying a two year delay to the Pope’s Road project had had a “profound impact” on the developer’s ability to build it.

The controversial office-led scheme had been approved by Lambeth council in November 2020 but mayor of London Sadiq Khan later used his planning powers to take a final decision on the application.

It would have provided around 25,000 sq m of office space, retail, restaurant and cafe space and incubator space for small local businesses.

But the 98m-tall block has received more than 1,000 objections from locals and a damning appraisal from Historic England due to its scale and prominence in the mostly low-rise centre of Brixton.

Hondo said: “We are now at the position where the applicant needs to reconsider its position and can only do this by withdrawing the application.

“We hope we can soon be in a position where a revised approach can be tabled which is able to deliver lasting benefits for Brixton’s businesses and residents.”

> Also read: FOI battle reveals Khan was advised to reject Adjaye’s Brixton tower

It is the second time the scheme has been delayed after Sadiq Khan postponed the initial June 2022 hearing a week before the scheduled date after a request from Hondo following the Historic England objection.

Last week the GLA recommended refusal for the application, saying the tower’s height, scale and mass represented an “unacceptable form of development which would harm the character and appearance of the area”.

The authority said the scheme had failed to appreciate the significance of nearby parks, listed buildings and conservation areas and criticised Hondo for not producing any acceptable revisions during 12 months of talks.

A GLA report said: “In the 12 months since the hearing was postponed, GLA officers have made repeated attempts to engage proactively with the applicant to move the application process forward. Following repeated requests, the applicants produced three high level redevelopment options which were submitted to GLA officers in October 2022.”

The authority said officers had held meetings with Hondo to “explain the planning issues preventing a positive recommendation” and to discuss changes to the scheme.

It added: “The applicant has not produced any further options to date for discussion with GLA officers, the local community and other stakeholders or submitted any amendments to their scheme.

“It is notable that no progress towards a revised submission has been made during the first six months of 2023. GLA officers have also encouraged the applicant to re-engage with the local community and Historic England, which has not been done.”

It is the latest in a string of roadblocks to hit Adjaye Associates projects in the last two weeks.

Last week the Africa Institute in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, cancelled plans for a major new campus designed by the practice following allegations of sexual misconduct against practice founder David Adjaye.

The architect is also no longer involved in both the UK National Holocaust Memorial and the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon, and has stepped down from his role as a design advocate for Sadiq Khan.

> Also read: David Adjaye steps down from major roles following sexual misconduct allegations

The allegations against Adjaye, which he strongly denies, were made by three female former employees of the architect and include instances of sexual assault, harassment, controlling behaviour and use of derogatory language towards Black women.

Following the report, first published in the Financial Times, Adjaye said he was seeking immediate professional help to “learn from these mistakes” and was “ashamed” to have entered relationships with the women.

Adjaye’s lawyer said he “absolutely rejected” claims of sexual misconduct, abuse or criminal wrongdoing, adding the allegations were “untrue, distressing for me and my family and run counter to everything I stand for”.

Adjaye Associates has been contacted for comment.