Plans by ITV to redevelop its television studio complex on the South Bank with a new headquarters building for the broadcaster - as well as a 31-storey block of flats - have been approved by Lambeth Council.
Lambeth's planning applications committee voted unanimously to approve the ITV scheme at a meeting on Tuesday night.
ITV has already begun to relocate its staff to other offices around London and will have emptied the London Television Centre – built in the 1970s for London Weekend Television (LWT) – by the middle of this year.
ITV is part-funding its new headquarters by gaining permission for a 31-storey block of flats on the same site as the existing ITV office tower. Having gained planning permission the TV firm will sell the tower element of the scheme to a residential developer.
The broadcaster is abandoning large-scale light entertainment TV production on the South Bank and the three new studios proposed in the rebuilt ITV complex will be focussed on the production of breakfast and daytime magazine shows like Good Morning Britain, Lorraine, This Morning and Loose Women.
Whereas the largest studio in the present building has an audience capacity of more than 600, the biggest studio in the new scheme will only seat 100 people.
Planning officer Ben Le Mare told councillors that ITV's presence on the prime riverside site offered "significant synergies with the cultural offer on the South Bank" which justified the low level of affordable housing proposed on site, with just 22 of the 213 flats to be offered as intermediate tenure housing.
In addition, ITV (or its development partner) will pay Lambeth £3.7 million in lieu of affordable housing. The committee heard that this money could be spent elsewhere in the borough, for example in Vauxhall.
"In adding an new building to the South Bank, we wanted to complement and enhance the character of the conservation area, design a freestanding building visible on all four sides and ensure that our facades reflect the horizontality of the neighbouring Denys Lasdun buildings," said Michael Taylor of Hopkins Architects.
Mr Taylor said that his scheme aimed to "give ITV a distinctive new home worthy of the location".
He added: "We have set out to create sophisticated contemporary architecture made with high quality materials that is respectful of its neighbours and enhances the public realm."
The meeting heard from Mark Wakefield of IBM UK – whose offices are adjacent to the London Television Centre – who voiced fears about the impact of the demolition and construction phases on the IT giant's ability to use its riverside offices.
Iain Tuckett of Coin Street Community Builders – which currently leases Prince's Wharf (east of the main ITV block) to the broadcaster – also addressed the meeting to express dismay that the planning application didn't include the through pedestrian routes from Upper Ground to the Queen's Walk which are set out in Lambeth's planning policy for the site
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