The controversial plans for Elizabeth House in Waterloo are to progress to the next stage, after the High Court ruled that a legal challenge be thrown out.
English Heritage and Westminster Council took the decision to challenge the plans for the site, believing that there should have been a public inquiry to investigate the impact of the development.
Since they were revealed, the plans for the new Elizabeth House have been the subject of much controversy, with even the developers of the site, Chelsfield and London & Regional Properties, acknowledging that it was likely to provoke a “marmite reaction”.
The £600m development has been designed to modernise the area around Waterloo Station and includes a new public space to complement the twenty-nine storey mixed-use office and residential building.
But while those in favour of the project point to the many economic benefits it will bring, including the creation of new jobs and improved access to the station, concern from the building’s critics is centred on the impact it will have on the historic skyline.
Speaking last year, Robert Davis, Westminster City Council’s deputy leader, said that the proposed building would “irreversibly damage the views of Westminster’s World Heritage Site”. Both English Heritage and UNESCO shared similar opinions, with the former choosing to join Westminster City Council in mounting a challenge of the plans.
But in the High Court, Mr Justice Andrew Collins questioned the extent to which the development would impact on views of nearby London landmarks. “There is a view which could reasonably be taken that despite UNESCO’s and the claimants’ concerns the impact is not such as would damage the WWHS or other listed buildings and conservation areas.”
According to the team behind Elizabeth House, the redevelopment of the building will help to bring much-needed, modern office stock to Waterloo in order to push ahead with regeneration of the area. They hope that the new building will act as “a shot in the arm”, stimulating the creation of a new business district within the area.
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