The developers took the decision to appeal after councillors rejected the proposal at a planning meeting in February.
Councillors rejected the proposal because of:
- The harm that would be caused to the setting of the World Heritage Site
- Impact on the setting of listed buildings and adjoining conservation areas
- Poor quantity and quality of the proposed amenity space.
- Overbearing impact of the proposed development and the creation of a sense of enclosure.
The inspector argued that:
- Protected views of Parliament would not be affected
- Southbank House is robust enough not be dominated by existing taller buildings surrounding it, and that there would 'be little impact on the settings of either Southbank House or the Vauxhall Gardens Conservation Area'. 'The proposal will break the continuity of scale along the Albert Embankment but will be perceptibly in the background of the Fire Brigade building, and not challenging it'.
- Play and amenity space can be provided off site in the neighbouring Pedlars Park and Lambeth High Street Recreation Ground.
- Flats in 9 Albert Embankment would not be adversely affected by loss of light or outlook.
- 'The surrounding streets are already ‘enclosed’ by buildings and the existing 5/6
storey building on the site contributes to that feeling of enclosure'. The new building would have 'little material effect on the existing sense of enclosure in surrounding
Councillor Mark Harrison said 'it's a shame that planning rules mean that an unelected quango can overrule the decision taken by councillors. Local people felt this building was too tall and too dense.'