Architect Allies and Morrison looks set to win a competition to design the latest tall tower planned for Waterloo in central London.

The practice, which has just been appointed to the design team for the Olympic Park, is up against competition from Make, Kohn Pedersen Fox and Foreign Office Architects.

The Elizabeth House tower is being developed by P&O. Its 130,000 m2 floor area will mostly be taken up by offices, although there is also some housing and retail.

The winning design will replace a 32-storey RHWL building scrapped in 2004. RHWL, led by principal director Geoff Mann, will act as executive architect on the scheme. It is not known how the work will be split.

The site, which is next to Waterloo station, will have to fit in with the mayor's "Waterloo Opportunity Area" in the London Plan, which is being redrafted. The previous plan decreed that the area should provide 15,000 jobs.

The mayor indicated that a tower of more than 30 storeys would be looked on favourably

It is thought the building will be a tower, as the mayor indicated that any redesign incorporating a tower of more than 30 storeys would be looked on favourably. However, Transport for London has opposed moves to redirect a road to accommodate a public square in front of the building.

A spokesperson for P&O insisted that the company's imminent takeover would not affect the project. She said: "It's business as usual for us. We will carry on as if nothing has happened."

Work is likely to start in the middle of next year.