Pickles steps in to review Shell Centre scheme

Kasmira Jefford
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COMMUNITIES Secretary Eric Pickles yesterday said he would review the redevelopment of Shell’s headquarters on the south bank, casting doubt over the future of the £1bn scheme.

The scheme on London’s South Bank is being developed by Canary Wharf Group and Qatari Diar and will see 877 new homes, offices and shops built on the five acres of land surrounding the 27-storey tower.

Pickles is understood to have made the decision to study the plans because of concerns that the project could impact the view to the opposite side of the river from parliament.

The Communities’ department said is was “very selective” about calling in planning applications and only took this step if planning issues “of more than local importance” are involved.

“The process will include reviewing all relevant considerations, including the design and any potential impact on the UNESCO World Heritage site by Parliament Square,” it said in a statement.

The decision has attracted strong criticism from the developers and Lambeth Council, who said the move “sends the wrong message” to developers wanting to invest in the capital.

Work on site was due to start in November. However, a spokesperson for the developers said the review could see plans delayed by at least six to nine months.

London Mayor Boris Johnson also spoke out yesterday, saying he was both “surprised and disappointed” by the decision to recall a scheme “exhaustively examined by planners”.

“This project will bring hundreds of new homes and thousands of new jobs. It’s vital that this is resolved quickly,” Johnson said.

Plans by Henderson Global Investors to turn part of Smithfield market into a new public quarter with offices, shops were also called in.

The scheme has been met with some opposition by campaigners wanting to see more of original fittings inside the 150 year-old site preserved.