Developer says five-block Royal Street scheme offers “subsantial tangible benefits”

Stanhope has defended its plan to build a huge mixed-use scheme next to Waterloo station following the government’s decision to put the proposals on ice.

Communities secretary Michael Gove issued an Article 31 Direction at the end of last month, preventing the Royal Street scheme from going ahead without special authorisation from the government.

The proposals, which are being developed by Stanhope and US funder Baupost, would see five blocks of office, retail and residential space built on the site.

The masterplan has been designed by AHMM, with other practices working on the scheme including Henley Halebrown, Morris & Co and Piercy & Co.

Royal St group

View of the Royal Street proposals

The application was approved by both Lambeth council and Sadiq Khan despite widespread opposition from locals, including a petition opposing the plans which has been signed by nearly 45,000 people.

Dozens of objections were posted on the application’s page on Lambeth council’s planning portal due to the size of the buildings, which would be up to 16 storeys in height, and the scheme’s proximity to the Westminster Unesco World Heritage site. 

Historic England also opposed the plans on the grounds of their heritage impact, meaning they needed final sign-off from Gove and had been awaiting this decision before the secretary of state’s decision to pause them.

In a letter sent to former Lambeth MP Kate Hoey, communities minister Jane Antoinette Scott said that the Article 31 Direction had been issued by the Planning Casework Unit in the Department of Levelling up, Housing and Communities on 31 July.

In response, Stanhope said: “We believe that the Royal Street proposals offer substantial tangible benefits to the borough and community and are sensitively designed to have little to no impact on the World Heritage Site and a carefully managed impact on the immediate neighbourhood.”

“Royal Street was approved unanimously by Lambeth Council’s planning committee in December 2022 and by the GLA in July 2023, with both agreeing that the very real benefits this scheme will bring to Lambeth, and to London as a whole, significantly outweigh any heritage impacts.”

The developer added the scheme would bring more than 6,200 jobs to Lambeth and provide 160,000sq m of workspace, 33,800sq m of retail space and 130 new homes.

Hoey, who had opposed the plans, lauded Gove for issuing the Article 31 Direction and called for a full public inquiry. 

She said on Twitter: “Michael Gove really seems to understand how historic London is being ruined by greedy developers and Councils like Lambeth who ignore the local community.”

Historic England said in its objection that the scheme would have a “highly adverse” impact on the setting of the Westminster World Heritage Site.

Concerns were also raised over the scheme’s position next to Archbishop’s Park, a public park on land formerly belonging to the grounds of Lambeth Palace.

Historic England said the scheme would create a “wall-like appearance” around the historic park which would negatively affect the significance of the neighbouring 13th century Palace, its grounds and the local conservation area.