Proposals for a 44-storey tower for apartments, and commercial and retail uses, and an eight-storey commercial building north of Elephant and Castle. Designed by Allies and Morrison.
21 April 2009
Planning reference: 09-AP-0343
We are broadly supportive of this scheme. We consider that a cluster of tall buildings at Elephant and Castle is appropriate and that the principle of a tall building on this site is justified. We do not believe that the building’s impact on the views contained within the townscape assessment is harmful. The architecture is intelligent and high quality and we support the well-considered form, massing and façade treatment of both blocks. We do have reservations, however, about the public realm treatment and management and recommend that more work needs to be carried out on this aspect before we can offer the planning application our full support.
Given that there is an implicit obligation on a tall building to provide public realm that makes an exemplary contribution to its surroundings, we are concerned that the public realm design within this application is not yet satisfactory. We endorse many of the principles: removal of buses and bus stands from this section of Southwark Bridge Road, coordination of a wider landscape strategy with South Bank University and creation of a campus gateway space, and the increased permeability provided by a pedestrian route through the site. However, the public spaces that have resulted from the development of these principles feel uncomfortable and are not yet compelling in their own right.
For example, while the central space works well as a public route we find it less convincing as a residents’ garden; the lack of definition between the public gateway space to the south, the public pedestrian route through the garden and the likely level of shading of the space leads us the question its meaningful usability as a residential amenity. We suggest that University Square at the southern end of Keyworth Street should be considered as a place to linger and meet, and we do not therefore support the proposal that this will be a circus-type space. The aggressive prow created by the southern apex of the 8-storey block creates uncomfortable space to its south that might be improved by undercutting at ground floor level as at the northern apex.
Because achieving the high quality environment suggested by the application will be dependant on successful management and maintenance regimes within the completed development, we are concerned that no management strategy appears to have been included in the planning application. We are sceptical about the inclusion of the green wall, which is likely to require intensive, at least weekly, maintenance.
Although we support the design of the buildings we do not yet feel that the public realm proposal is good enough. We recommend that more work should be carried out to develop the landscape design, and a management strategy added to the application, before it is determined.