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London South Bank Redevelopment Gets Green Light

The appearance of the London skyline has always been controversial. However, in a major victory for developers, the High Court has given the green light for a project which will transform a 3.5 hectare site on the south bank of the Thames.

The scheme will involve demolition of the Shell Centre, the London headquarters of the Shell Oil Company, and its replacement by eight new buildings comprising office, retail and residential uses. Pedestrian walkways and open spaces will also be laid out and the project will involve the delicate relocation of a listed fountain.

Following a planning inspector’s positive report, planning consent was granted in June 2014 by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. However, a lone campaigner who had opposed the project throughout mounted a judicial review challenge which threatened to derail the entire scheme.

He argued that the proposals made insufficient provision for affordable housing and would entail a reduction in open space. He also claimed that the Shell Centre, although not nationally listed, should be viewed as a heritage asset and that the hearing before the inspector had been procedurally unfair.

The Court expressed concern that the inspector may in some instances have ‘given the unfortunate impression’ that he was more favourable to the developers than to the objectors. However, in rejecting the challenge, it ruled that there was no real possibility that he was biased. He had taken all relevant planning considerations into account and had considered the matter with an open mind.

Turner v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Case Number: CO/3348/2014