The future of a trio of towers planned in Waterloo as part of a major regeneration scheme is now in doubt after plans were rejected last year following a public inquiry. The 1.5 million square foot redevelopment of the Elizabeth House site were turned down in October as secretary of state, John Denham, felt that they did not not fit in with the rest of the area.
John Denham argued that the towers would “materially detract from the size and importance of Big Ben by virtue of their bulk and disturbing aspects of design.” The three towers were often nicknamed the Three Sisters, although some saw them more as the ‘Ugly Sisters’.
The project was proposed by P&O Estates and Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund (MSREF). They were planning to transform the 240,000 square foot Elizabeth House office block site into two high rise office towers and a 33-storey block of flats. Being close to Southbank and Waterloo station, the towers were designed to be a key factor in the area’s regeneration scheme.
The government rejection of the plans has thrown the regeneration of the Waterloo area into question. P&O Estates had invested around £8 million into the plans – would they be willing to spend any more time and money again?
Luckily, it seems the ball could now be rolling again. MSREF is reporting to be making plans for its next move for the area. They are currently looking for a new development partner to buy a 50% stake in the billion pound project. However this would mean P&O losing 10% interest.
Despite the setback from the government, the outlook is starting to look hopeful for the regeneration of the Waterloo area. They now have a fresh new beginning ahead, and investment opportunities look promising post-recession.
“It’s fair to say that the scheme needed refining. There is a clean slate with which to start again. Ultimately, the area around Waterloo station is a fantastic development opportunity,” say MSREF’s agent Jamie Pope, who is a senior director for CB Richard Ellis’ West End capital markets team.
Other planners believe that the government want to see a landmark site in the area, developed to form part of London’s well-known skyline. It needs to be an exceptional development which compliments the existing landmarks in the area.
Other possible developments include the station itself and the Shell Centre, belonging to the petroleum giant. Agents say that the successful developers of the site will be likely to make a really great investment in an area, which is predicted as the next market hot spot. Clearly the area is seen as the next big thing in terms of regeneration and investment – Waterloo now seems full of potential for high standard developments in London.