Design body approves reduction in height to 51 storeys and improvements in public space

Design watchdog Cabe has given its broad support to architect Ian Simpson’s revised plans for a huge residential tower in Blackfriars, London.

Simpson Blackfriars tower

Cabe’s design review panel said the reduction in the tower’s height from 68 to 51 storeys as well as redesigned lower blocks and public realm had resulted in an improved scheme.

The design review report said the scheme would be a bold addition to the London skyline but noted that the building would still be visible above the rooftops of Horseguards Parade and Whitehall in the view from St James’s park.

Simpson was sent back to the drawing board last year following growing objections to the scheme. When the original planning application was submitted in 2005, both Lambeth and Westminster councils objected to the scheme on the grounds that the tower would obscure views.

Cabe’s design report warned that the reduction in the tower’s height had not been accompanied by a comparable change in its width. It said this may have been due to optimum floorspace requirements as opposed to maintaining design standards and advised changes.

Cabe also suggested that the building on the corner of Blackfriars and Stamford Road might need redesigning. It said that the practice should explore different architectural solutions for the plot.

Cabe gave a guarded welcome to the previous 68-storey scheme in 2005, again saying it would be a “bold addition” to the London skyline and that it was happy with its location.