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Old Kent Road skyscrapers: heritage watchdog’s 'growing concern'

Heritage watchdog Historic England has warned Southwark Council of its "growing concern" over the piecemeal development of skyscrapers along the Old Kent Road.

Old Kent Road skyscrapers: heritage watchdog’s 'growing concern'
This 48-storey tower would occupy the site where Argos currently stands in Humphrey Street

Responding to proposals for a 48-storey tower on the site of the Southernwood Retail Park next to Tesco on the Old Kent Road, Alasdair Young, Historic England's inspector of historic buildings and areas, has recommended that the planning application be refused or withdrawn.

"This application is the latest in a succession of tall building proposals along the Old Kent Road, and this is of growing concern to Historic England," wrote Mr Young.

"As set out in our Tall Buildings guidance, tall building development should follow a plan-led approach rather than a reaction to speculative development applications.

"However, we note that there is not currently an adopted policy for tall building development along the Old Kent Road."

Southwark Council's Old Kent Road Area Action Plan (OKR APP) is currently in draft form, and further revisions are expected before the document becomes a formally adopted part of the borough's planning policy.

Historic England warns that the new development at the Southernwood Retail Park site would be visible in the protected view of St Paul's Cathedral from Nunhead Cemetery, and from the centre of the Serpentine Bridge in Hyde Park when looking towards the Palace of Westminster.

The heritage watchdog also claims that the skyscraper would harm the conservation areas around Cobourg Road, Trafalgar Avenue, Glengall Road, Thorburn Square and Page's Walk, making a "major visual impact" on the "historic rooflines" of the Georgian and Victorian terraces north and south of the Old Kent Road.

The planning application for 725 homes and a hotel on the site of the Southernwood Retail Park can be seen at 18/AP/3551.

The project has been designed by architects Pilbrow and Partners on behalf of Glasgow City Council as administering authority for the Strathclyde Pension Fund.

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