Eleventh-hour decision by communities secretary Eric Pickles not to call the scheme in

Lambeth council has approved KPF’s proposal for a 50-storey block of 450 flats in Vauxhall after an eleventh-hour decision by the communities secretary not to call it in.

The New Bondway scheme on the southern side of the gyratory was referred to the mayor of London and Eric Pickles because of concerns raised by English Heritage that it would spoil views of Parliament.

Boris Johson stepped aside but on September 9 Pickles directed the local authority not to approve it “without specific authorisation”.

Two months later he had still not issued a decision but the council’s planning department went ahead and recommended councillors approve it.

They had previously “resolved to approve” it in August despite complaints from local residents that it will cast their flats into the shade.

Just before Tuesday’s meeting Pickles confirmed he would not force a public inquiry. The Communities Department declined to comment when contacted by Building’s sister title BD yesterday.

Nicknamed the Jenga Tower because several floors of the 179m building cantilever over a lower block containing “affordable” flats, New Bondway replaces a previous plan for a 42-storey skyscraper designed by Make which was thrown out at public inquiry in 2011.

KPF has also designed the neighbouring One Nine Elms towers which, at 58 storeys, could be the tallest residential scheme in London when built.

South Quay rejection

Meanwhile, plans by KPF for the 68-storey Quay House in Canary Wharf have been refused after councillors said the 233m tall building was “overbearing” and did not integrate into the existing townscape meaning it could “harm” the local area.

The scheme, which includes plans for nearly 500 flats, has now been referred to the mayor who earlier this autumn said he was concerned about the number of tall buildings planned for South Quay.

These include a 68-storey and 36-storey residential tower scheme at South Quay Plaza by Foster & Partners for nearly 900 homes, which was given planning at the same meeting, while Squire & Partners is behind an even bigger tower, the 75-storey City Pride building – which also has planning. And plans by Glenn Howells Architects for the Arrowhead Quay scheme, featuring towers of 50 and 55 storeys containing more than 750 homes, were also approved by Tower Hamlets last week.

A statement published by City Hall last month said Johnson was “concerned that without an overall strategy for South Quay, the tall buildings proposed could have a detrimental impact on London’s skyline and the public realm”.