Heritage advisor warned three-tower plan would cause “very serious level of harm” to listed buildings on the site

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The office tower, which has been cut down by one storey under amendments submitted in response to Historic England’s objection

Foster & Partners has made a series of changes to its £1bn proposals for three mixed-use towers on London’s South Bank after the plans were strongly criticised by Historic England.

The practice has been told to redesign several parts of the already long-delayed 18 Blackfriars scheme by developer Hines ahead of the application being presented to Southwark council’s planning committee.

Under proposals submitted last July, two residential towers of 22 and 40 storeys and a 44-storey office tower would be built on top of a four-storey podium, with the tallest part of the scheme coming in at just under 200m in height.

But an objection filed by Historic England in September warned the plans would cause a “very serious level of harm” to a pair of grade II-listed buildings on the site.

The original proposals would have substantially altered 3-7 Stamford Street, a former hat-making factory built in 1875, and its neighbour 1 Stamford Street, including the demolition of a rear extension and two Victorian staircases.

The two buildings would also have been connected by a glazed infill structure under the plans which Historic England said would reduce the ability to understand the separate characters of the buildings.

The heritage advisor added that the proximity of the office tower would “dominate and overpower” the listed buildings, eroding the ability to appreciate their historic scale and the positive contribution they make to the local townscape “from which they would be disguised”.

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The scheme’s proposed podium, left, next to the listed buildings, right

In its objection letter, Historic England said the proposals did not meet national planning legislation and policy, London planning policy, the Southwark Plan or local guidance for Blackfriars Road.

“We therefore strongly object to the current applications. We recommend the current applications are refused unless the applicant chooses to make amendments,” the government heritage advisor said.

It added that the scale of the proposals would also harm nearby heritage assets, including the former Clay’s Printing Works and Christ Church, both of which border the site and are grade II-listed.

> Also read: New owner of £1bn South Bank site replaces Wilkinson Eyre with Fosters

In amendments aiming to address the objection, Foster & Partners has proposed removing one storey from the office tower, reducing its massing to avoid oversailing the listed buildings and reconfiguring its ground floor next to 3 - 7 Stamford Street.

A glazed link between the listed buildings and the office buildings has also been scrapped, the two staircases will be retained and some new proposed additions, including juliette windows, have been removed from the plans.

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The tallest of two residential towers in the scheme

The scheme would be among the tallest in an emerging cluster of towers at the southern end of Blackfriars Bridge that already includes Simpson Haugh’s One Blackfriars.

Hines and the National Pension Service of Korea purchased the site in 2021, inheriting a consent for two 53 and 34-storey towers designed by Wilkinson Eyre, but opted to replace the architect.

Fosters’ fresh vision for the site was first revealed in 2022 but the planning application was delayed by seven months due to protracted talks with Southwark council over the size of the proposals.

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Proposed public realm on the site