Bennetts Associates and Arup working on plan for 3.6ha riverside site for Network Rail and developer Almacantar

Details have emerged of plans for a huge eight-block redevelopment of a riverside site next to Blackfriars station in the City of London.

Several large buildings on the 3.62ha Puddle Dock site just south of St Paul’s Cathedral will be either demolished or refurbished under a masterplan drawn up by Bennetts Associates for developer Almacantar and Network Rail.

The proposals, some of the largest in the City in recent years, would see the construction of eight new buildings fronting onto the river Thames with a total combined floorspace of more than 90,000 sq m.


Source: Shutterstock

The scheme involves redeveloping a series of 1970s buildings on the northern side of the Thames next to Blackfriars station

A 427-page technical document submitted to the City of London Corporation by Arup outlines how the wider 114,000 sq m site would be split into three development zones for a mix of commercial office and retail space, with buildings ranging from six to seven storeys and each having its own architectural identity.

The site on the north side of the river  is currently occupied by a series of mostly 1970s brutalist buildings divided by a dense tangle of overlapping roads and tunnels which would be entirely reconfigured.

Queen Victoria Street slip road to the north of the site, the White Lion Hill overpass to the west, and service roads from Blackfriars Passage to Puddle Dock will all be demolished to make way for the new buildings and improve access for pedestrians

Upper Thames Street, which currently runs through the middle of the site and into a tunnel passing beneath the neighbouring City of London School, would be moved northwards and opened to the sky, while the Puddle Dock carriageway will be shifted to the east.

Both these routes would be lined with broad pavements, trees and retail arcades, while the site’s north-south streets are proposed as narrow and traffic-free.

Puddle Dock 3

Aerial view of the current site

The existing Puddle Dock 1 building would be partly demolished and retrofitted under the plans, while Puddle Dock 2 and the adjacent Mermaid Conference Centre have been deemed “too degraded to retrofit” and will be demolished.

Another building on the site, Baynard House, will be part demolished and refurbished with private gardens terraces and balconies built on its roof and upper storeys.

The City of London School’s sports pitch will also be removed and rebuilt on the roof of one of the refurbished Baynard House, while the existing pedestrian route along the Thames will be widened and a large new public space will be created within its central area.

Almacantar has described the current site as “dominated by hard urban infrastructure” and providing poor quality connections to and from the surrounding river and transport hubs.

Puddle Dock 1

Bennetts Associates’ masterplan for the Puddle Dock site

The developer said its aim for the scheme is to “transform an under-utilised piece of the City into a vibrant new City quarter”.

The project team also currently includes landscape architect Gustafson Porter & Bowman, townscape consultant The Townscape Consultancy, transport consultant Momentum, planning consultant Gerald Eve, structural engineer Waterman and placemaking consultant Future City.