Southwark planning officer recommends scheme for approval despite more than 400 public objections

Plans for an 18-storey office block next to Elephant and Castle station have been recommended for approval despite receiving more than 400 objections from members of the public.

The 86m-tall building, designed for Lendlease, would be located between train lines and the western edge of Elephant Park. It is the last plot of the £2.3bn Elephant Park masterplan approved in 2013 which is replacing the demolished Heygate Estate.

Over 430 objections were received in response to the application’s first consultation, focusing on the scale and design of the building and a perceived lack of need for office space in the area.


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One objector on Southwark council’s planning portal described the scheme as a “fat, ugly looking building” which would block light and views for nearby buildings, while another compared it to Rafael Viñoly’s divisive Walkie Talkie.

The block replaces plans for a smaller residential scheme on the site which had been approved as part of the outline application for the wider regeneration.

With a total floor area of 64,000sq m, the new proposals are almost double the size of the former 36,000sq m development, which would have consisted of a slender 83m-tall tower and two blocks connected by a podium.

The loss of housing in the new plans had been a key grievance among objectors, who questioned why the Elephant Park redevelopment contained more than 300 fewer homes than the Heygate Estate.

But Southwark’s planning officer said that since the maximum residential floor area of the wider redevelopment had already almost been reached, the original scheme could not have been completed as intended.

The officer’s report added that council policy permitted the construction of a large office block on the site as it is within a local opportunity area next to the train station and would contribute to job creation targets.

Councillors will vote on whether to approve the scheme at Southwark’s next planning committee meeting next Tuesday.