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Secretary of State Rejects Major Central London Development at 8 Albert Embankment

Charles Streeten

The Secretary of State has refused planning permission for a major London  redevelopment of the former London Fire Brigade Head Quarters at 8 Albert Embankment.

The proposed £500m scheme, rising up to 26 storeys and involving 433 residential units, a museum, a hotel, a rooftop restaurant and various leisure and commercial uses was designed by Pilbrow and Partners. It was promoted by the developer U+I and supported by Lambeth and the Mayor of London, would have been located diagonally opposite the Houses of Parliament on the south bank of the River Thames between Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges.

The application was called-in by the Secretary of State, following Lambeth's resolution to grant permission, in light of objections by Westminster City Council to the impact of the development on the Outstanding Universal Value of the Westminster World Heritage Site, including in Strategic Views in the London View Management Framework.

Following a three week public inquiry, and in agreement with the evidence of Tom Burke, Westminster's Head of Design, Conservation, and Sustainability, the Inspector found that the development would result in less than substantial harm to the Westminster WHS, which attracted the maximum weight. 

Overall, the Inspector (whose findings the Secretary of State adopted) found that the development did not accord with "key principles in respect of heritage" in adopted development plan policy and that overall the heritage harm caused by the scheme were not outweighed, such that planning permission should be refused.

Charles Streeten acted for Westminster City Council, instructed by Chris Todman, then of Bi-Borough Legal Services (now at Town Legal).

A copy of the decision can be found here.