Communities secretary backs planning inspector’s recommendation to approve South Bank scheme two years after work was due to start

Michael Gove has cleared the way for the highly controversial redevelopment of ITV’s former studios on the South Bank following a public inquiry.

The communities secretary has backed the planning inspector’s recommendation to approve CO-RE and Mitsubishi Estate’s £700m scheme to replace the former 24-storey tower at 72 Upper Ground with two office blocks of 26 and 13 storeys.

The Make-designed demolish and rebuild scheme has provoked the ire of locals and campaigners due to its scale and its proximity to its listed neighbours on the South Bank, including the grade II*-listed National Theatre and the grade II-listed IBM Building which is being revamped by Multiplex for Stanhope.

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ITV’s 24-storey former studio will be replaced by two linked office blocks up to 26 storeys under the Make-designed plans

One of the biggest construction jobs in the capital, it was approved by both Lambeth council and the mayor of London in 2022 before being called in by Gove’s predecessor Greg Clark.

Labour MP Florence Eshalomi was among hundreds of objectors to the application, which also received fire from heritage groups including Historic England.

Gove’s decision on the scheme, originally expected last August following the conclusion of a public inquiry the preceding January, was delayed three times before giving his final sign off this afternoon.

Reacting to the decision, which runs across 340 pages, Make’s founding partner Frank Filskow said he was “so pleased” the plans had made it over the line.

”The development will be a fantastic addition to the character of the South Bank,” he said.

“Our design marries the sensitive architectural narrative of the area with modern market requirements. We’ve picked up on the horizontal layers of our modernist neighbours, echoing their sculptural form while ensuring that wellbeing, daylight and natural ventilation is a priority for the new tenants.

”The two buildings will bring extensive amenity in the form of a high-quality commercial and arts-led development, and give back 40% of the site to create new biodiverse public spaces, including a new route to the riverfront, and two new garden squares.”

“We’re excited for the next steps and getting started,” he added.

>> See also: Gove intervention on ITV studios leaves many wondering which scheme is next in firing line

In a joint statement, Mitsubishi Estate London chief executive Shinichi Kagitomi and CO-RE director Stephen Black said they were delighted that the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) had approved the “transformational” plans for the site.

“Through all stages of the planning process there has been strong recognition of the fantastic addition that 72 Upper Ground will make to the South Bank and to London,” the pair said.

“Local young creative groups, Lambeth Council, the GLA and now DLUHC have all backed our proposals for a high-quality commercial and arts-led development befitting of one of London’s most famous destinations.

“We understand and respect the responsibilities that come with being a major investor and developer in London. We see ourselves as an integral part of London’s community, with the aim to make this global city a better place to work, live and enjoy. We are looking forward to working with our cultural neighbours and the community to deliver on that ambition.”

In the DLUHC letter announcing Gove’s decision, the communities secretary is said to have had a “different view on some matters” to the planning inspector but “overall, agrees with her recommendation”.

Lendlease was appointed to carry out the main construction contract on the scheme just days before Gove’s initial intervention in 2022 just as McGee was set to start demolition work.

The firm pipped Sir Robert McAlpine and Laing O’Rourke to the deal with others working on the job including QS T&T Alinea, landscape architect Grant Associates and engineer Arup.

The plot was bought by Mitsubishi and CO-RE for close to £150m in November 2019.