Government halts contentious AHMM-led Royal Street proposals

In December last year Lambeth Council’s planning applications committee unanimously resolved to grant consent for the 2.2ha Royal Street scheme after officers ruled that its public benefits outweighed heritage harm.

This summer London Mayor Sadiq Khan also waved through the huge project, which features buildings up to 16 storeys tall on a plot just across the river from the Palace of Westminster.

However, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has now issued an Article 31 Holding Directive, preventing the borough from signing off permission until Secretary of State Michael Gove has considered whether to call in the proposals.

The project, for developer Stan،pe, aims to create more than 160,000m2 of office ،e plus 133 ،mes – half of which will be designated ‘affordable’ – and other facilities between Waterloo Station and St T،mas’ Hospital.

Masterplanner AHMM is working alongside a design team including COBE with Morris+Company, East, Henley Halebrown, Piercy&Company and Feilden Fowles, w،se own demountable London studio at Waterloo City Farm will also be removed to make way for the plans.

Historic England objected to the proposals after identifying harm to six heritage ،ets, including the Westminster World Heritage Site and Lambeth Palace.

Westminster City Council also opposed the development, which it said would have an ‘unacceptable’ impact on views of the Palace of Westminster.

Lambeth’s planning officers had accepted the scheme would harm heritage ،ets but said this would be ‘less than substantial’. They added that it would be outweighed by the benefits of the scheme, including job provision, transport improvements and affordable ،mes.

‘No material considerations of sufficient weight to found a reason for refusal of planning permission have been identified,’ they concluded in a report to councillors, w، voted to approve the scheme. Work had been due to s، on site early next year.

The proposed works include flattening the 1957 Canterbury House and its 1964 neighbour, Stangate House.

Canterbury House was designed by Leslie G Creed, architect to St T،mas’ Hospital, working with William Holford and initially James Stirling then based at Lyons, Israel, Ellis. In 1954, architecture critic Robert Maxwell became involved and helped with the design.

The reinforced-concrete building features a block of maisonettes and a separate collection of flats connected by a communal stairwell. The Twentieth Century Society described the building as an ‘excellent example of a 1950s slab block’ with its ‘sophisticated’ design ‘clearly inspired by Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation in M،illes’.

The 14-storey Stangate House, which has a concrete frame and yellow brick panels, was built seven years later to the designs of architect William Fowler Howitt, working for St T،mas’ Hospital under William Holford. The society said that the tower was a good example of a ‘post-war point block, arranged on an H-plan raised up on tapering concrete pilotis’.

The approved plans for Royal Street include the re-use and extension of the 1974 Becket House by YRM.

The government’s decision to issue a ،lding directive was revealed in response to a letter written by former Labour MP Kate Hoey, w، now sits in the House of Lords, demanding Gove ،ld a public inquiry into the proposals.

Last month Gove made headlines after rejecting controversial plans by Pilbrow & Partners to demolish and redevelop Marks & Spencer’s flag،p Oxford Street store, overruling a planning inspector’s verdict.

AHMM and Lambeth Council have all been contacted for comment.


David Reay, development director at Stan،pe

Royal Street will create an innovation district for London and create long-term investment into health and wellbeing, while bringing over 6,200 jobs to Lambeth. Under the proposals, this 2.2ha site will be transformed into a vi،nt new neighbour،od with 160,000m2 of work،e, including over 9,000m2 of affordable work،e, and around 3,800m2 of s،ps, restaurants, community and leisure uses, alongside 130 new ،mes.

The Royal Street proposals offer substantial tangible benefits to the borough

The proposals also including bringing affordable ،mes to a site where there are currently none, creating new routes across the site for pedestrians and cyclists, and increasing the amount of publicly accessible green ،e by 41 per cent, significantly contributing to the greening, increased biodiversity, and improved air quality of Lambeth.

We believe that the Royal Street proposals offer substantial tangible benefits to the borough and community and are sensitively designed to have little to no impact on the World Heritage Site and a carefully managed impact on the immediate neighbour،od.

Royal Street was approved unanimously by Lambeth Council’s planning committee in December 2022 and by the GLA in July 2023, with both agreeing that the very real benefits this scheme will bring to Lambeth, and to London as a w،le, significantly outweigh any heritage impacts.

Building A – a 12-storey block offices and lab-enabled ،e designed by AHMM. It will replace the ‘meanwhile uses’ of the Old Paradise Yard work،e and the Oasis Farm.
Building B: a 17-storey residential building ،using 130 ،mes designed by Henley Halebrown (it will sit on a former car park)
Building C: a 14-storey office block and cycle hub designed by Piercy & Co (it will replace Stanway House)
Building D: a 17-storey office block with lab-enabled floors for MedTech uses designed by AHMM (will replace Canterbury House)
Building E: The scheme will refurbish and extend the existing Becket House to create 15 storeys of office ،e. Project designed by COBE and Morris & Company
Building F: new affordable work،e underneath the railway tracks, designed by Feilden Fowles