Boris Johnson u-turns over £1bn Waterloo development that includes 33-storey tower

Boris Johnson has been accused of betraying his election promises, after a significant u-turn in his decision to prevent the construction of three towers in central London.

The mayor initially opposed the £1bn development in Waterloo, which Lambeth council had wanted to approve.

Elizabeth House

The Elizabeth House scheme, nicknamed the Three Ugly Sisters, was to be 33 storeys high, but Johnson rejected the plans in July because of the impact on the Westminster world heritage site; the view from the footbridge in St James’s Park, and the setting of the County Hall and the Royal Festival Hall.

Much of Johnson’s election campaign had focused on his assurance that he would protect historic views, but he wrote to Lambeth on Monday and announced after considering a report on the case, he was “content to allow Lambeth council to determine the case itself”.

Michael Ball, director of the Waterloo Community Development Group, said this was the third time the mayor had gone back on his promise to protect views, following his failure to object to flats in Doon Street and his delayed objection to Beetham tower near Blackfriars bridge.

The plans for the Elizabeth House project by developers P&O include a 27-storey office building; a 22-storey office building and a 33-strorey tower of 274 flats. Westminster council situated across the river has objected to the proposals.

In a separate move, Johnson wrote to councils with plans for 50,000 affordable new homes throughout the capital over the next three years.