In news that will dismay Simon Jenkins, who was fulminating about the plan last week, Boris Johnson has signed off on plans to build a cluster of new buildings around the Shell Centre near Waterloo. The project will get off the ground later this year.
Under the plans, the main building (completed 1961) will be retained while the other surrounding buildings are demolished, and eight new towers constructed. They will comprise offices, retail and housing, with around 10% of the 900 units classed under the increasingly meaningless “affordable” tag. There will also be a public plaza and a new entrance to Waterloo underground.
The land around Shell has had some proposals over the past decade, including a dreary effort from Arup in 2004 heavily influenced by the post-Gherkin vogue for curvy glass buildings. Not everybody is pleased with the new plans either (“a visual wall of towers on a truly Stalinist scale” was Jenkins’s restrained view) and there will be concerns if, as is increasingly common, the new residences are snapped up by foreign-based owners who seldom visit. Whether it will attract the interests of Greenpeace, who last week scaled the Shard in protest at Shell’s drilling practices, remains to be seen.
The redevelopment should be completed in 2019.