Council narrowly grants approval after developer lops 15 storeys off scheme’s central tower

Plans by Grid Architects for 126 homes in Lambeth have been narrowly approved after the developer chopped 15 storeys off the scheme’s central tower.

Lambeth council’s planning committee voted three against and four in favour for the Kennington Stage scheme, designed for developer Anthology, earlier this week.

Located in a mostly low-rise residential area west of Elephant and Castle, close to the border with Southwark, the scheme consists of a 14-storey tower surrounded by a series of two to four-storey blocks with 24% of the homes classed as affordable.

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Grid’s updated vision for the former nursing home site

It will replace the vacant Woodlands nursing home, which was built in the 1990s and closed in 2013 before being sold to Cheltenham-based Anthology in 2018.

The site also encompasses the grade II-listed Masters House, which contains the Cinema Museum, although no development of this part of the site was included in the application.

The approval follows a failed appeal for a larger set of proposals by Rolfe Judd Architecture which were submitted in 2019.

This scheme would have seen the construction of a 29-storey tower and smaller surrounding blocks containing a total of 258 homes, 50% of which would be affordable.

Its appeal was dismissed in January 2021 on the grounds of the scheme’s “excessive density, harm to the local townscape, unacceptable loss of daylight and sunlight, overlooking, visual intrusion, and substandard internal living conditions within the new dwellings”, according to Lambeth council.

Anthology went back to the drawing board, replacing Rolfe Judd with Grid, and reduced both the height of the central tower and surrounding blocks, resulting in the loss of 132 homes and cutting the number of affordable homes by 100.

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View of the refused plans by Rolfe Judd from Elephant & Castle

The revised scheme still received more than 800 objections due to its height, density and townscape impact, including from campaign groups The Victorian Society and Stop The Blocks.

Historic England said the plans would cause “some harm” to the Renfrew Road Conservation Area, but that this would be less than substantial.

The site also neighbours a grade II-listed water tower that was converted into a luxury private home in 2007.