London mayor demands redesign of 33-storey Elizabeth House, and calls one aspect as a ‘design disaster’

'Bulky and inelegant': Livingstone attacks <a href=RHWL's riverside tower " src="" imagecode="69671" />
'Bulky and inelegant': Livingstone attacks RHWL's riverside tower

RHWL Architects has been told to redesign its proposed curving tower next to the London Eye after London mayor Ken Livingstone vetoed proposals for the 33-storey building.

The mayor said that he had strong reservations about the 92,000 m2 development overall and described one element, the realigning of a nearby road, as “a disaster in Urban Design terms”.

RHWL proposes to move York Road, the street running between Waterloo Station and the Thames, to the other side of the development.

In a letter to Lambeth council, seen by Building, Livingstone said the change to the road layout would lack the “clear sight lines” of the existing road.

He said: “York Road is an obvious linear route linking Westminster and Waterloo bridges. The proposal to realign York Road would be a disaster.” The mayor also objected to the “bulky and inelegant form” of the tower, which he said would be “overbearing and potentially oppressive in such a sensitive location”.

Bill Edgerley, managing director of developer P&O, rejected the criticism but said the scheme, called Elizabeth House, would be redesigned.

He said: “We believed it was a very good solution, but at the end of the day it is determined by the planning authorities. We are negotiating with the council and we just want to get on with it.” Edgerley added that the revised design would aim to make the tower taller than in the 1996 planning consent.

This might be welcomed by the mayor, who has indicated that any redesign incorporating a tower of more than 30 storeys would be looked on favourably.

Geoff Mann, principal director at RHWL, said the team was committed to working with the GLA and Lambeth to delivering the right scheme. He said: "We obviously disagree with the mayor's views on the style and we fundamentally disagree with his views on the road. It was one very clear way of solving the total lack of presence and appalling access to what is an international rail station. We now have to assess the site available and look at the parameters again."