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Skyscraper proposal

There is a proposal to build a 34-storey skyscraper at the south end of Battersea Bridge.

This is what it would look like (with thanks to Denis Strauss)

There is a petition which you may wish to sign at

The Chelsea Society and the Cheyne Walk Trust have objected to Wandsworth Council as follows:

“The Chelsea Society exists in order to safeguard the unique heritage of our part of London. The Cheyne Walk Trust is a residents’ association for the Cheyne, Royal Hospital and River Thames Conservation Areas with members living on Cheyne Walk, Chelsea Embankment and adjacent streets.

Our joint objections are focussed on the severe potential damage and harm to the historic and celebrated views of and from the conservation areas along Chelsea’s north bank of the River Thames, a designated Area of Metropolitan Importance.

A crucial part of Chelsea’s heritage is its riverside which constitutes one of the most iconic vistas in London. It forms part of the Thames Conservation Area and the adjoining Cheyne and Royal Hospital Conservation Areas, which contain numerous listed buildings such as the Grade 1 listed Chelsea Old Church, the Grade 1 Royal Hospital Chelsea, the Grade 1 Chelsea Physic Garden, the Grade 2* Lindsey House, the Grade 2* Crosby Hall, the Grade 2* Albert Bridge and many other Grade 2 buildings. Its skyline forms a harmonious whole which has been a much loved feature of our city for centuries.

The proposed building would do huge damage to this heritage.  Although located in Battersea it would be visible from all over Chelsea and would dominate and overwhelm the whole of the riverside. It would be completely out of character with the existing skyline and would set a precedent for further high rise development on the Wandsworth side of the river that would destroy the whole nature of the area.

The proposed skyscraper is vastly too tall for the space and location envisaged. It breaches Wandsworth Council’s Planning Policy set out in July 2023 where the height restriction is 12 storeys and where regeneration is favoured over demolition in order to meet Zero Carbon policy goals. It is also completely out of keeping with the heights of the immediately surrounding buildings.

A development on this scale would also involve a significant increase in the requirement for supporting amenities and services, but there is no indication of how these would be met.

Finally it would generate traffic chaos, Traffic flows across Chelsea, Albert and Battersea Bridges are already at unsustainable levels and for much of the day Cheyne Walk/ Chelsea Embankment are gridlocked. A new skyscraper next to Battersea Bridge would make this even worse and would further overload the whole of the Chelsea and Battersea traffic system.

For all these reasons, but particularly because of the impact on the heritage of Chelsea’s riverside, we urge Wandsworth Council to reject this application. To allow this skyscraper to be built in this location would from a Chelsea perspective be an act of wanton vandalism.

Turning to the Wandsworth Local Plan aspects of this development, we support the objections made by the The Wandsworth Society, The Battersea Society and the Putney Society. More specifically we set out the following concerns:

  1. The Riverside Area Strategy in the recently adopted Wandsworth Local Plan (July 2023), having gone through the full process with an independent Inspector, defined the application site (MB-B2-02) as suitable for buildings of 5-6 stories. Some debate might follow Appendix 2 of the Local Plan Policy LP4 that could arguably allow (TB-B2-04) a height of 7-12 stories on this site.

The present application for a 34-storey tower completely contravenes and ignores the spirit, purpose and detail of the Local Plan and the rigours of the Local Plan process.

  1. The site is part of a group of buildings between the Grade II* Listed, Albert Bridge and the Grade II, Listed Battersea Bridge. Various Grade I Listed buildings are within sight of the location, as is Battersea Historic Park (Listed Grade II*). Two of Lord Foster’s buildings form the bulk of the river frontage of the Ransome’s Dock Quarter of which this is part and are a maximum of 7-12 stories. When designing his two buildings, Lord Foster respected the group value of the setting.

 “The principal building on the waterfront is eleven storeys high. Its massing is designed to respect the heights of neighbouring buildings and to frame the view of the river from the opposite bank.” (Foster & Partners).

The recent adjacent buildings for the Royal College of Art on a larger site adhere to their context and are of 5 Stories.

  1. In the Planning Inspectorate’s Report on the Examination of the Wandsworth Local Plan of 23 June 2023, the Inspectors made a number of important comments concerning Tall and Mid-rise Buildings – Policy LP4.
  2. 115. We considered the representations regarding the application of Policy LP4 and MM146 modifies its wording by deleting “will not be permitted” and replacing it with “The Council will seek to restrict proposals for tall buildings outside of the identified tall building zones”, ensuring that the policy is in general conformity with the London Plan. It must be acknowledged that a number of respondents also raised concern that the proposed modification to Policy LP4 has been regarded as the “watering down” of the policy by allowing tall buildings beyond Tall Building Zones. Thus, a careful balancing of the issues is required to ensure that the Policy meets the 4 tests as set out within the Framework.
  3. The modification will allow a degree of flexibility and thus, providing opportunities for tall buildings where one can demonstrate other material considerations in support of a tall building beyond an identified tall building zone. However, it must be borne in mind that such opportunities are likely to be extraordinary rather than ordinary, and we are not persuaded that the Borough should be made a free for all in relation to tall buildings across Wandsworth. Such an approach would not be in accordance with the London Plan or be appropriate given the proximity of Westminster World Heritage Site and other Designated Heritage Assets that are spread across the Borough, as well as sensitivity in terms of amenity/living conditions and other important conservation and design considerations. The quality of many parts of the Borough would be vulnerable to buildings that are out of place with their surroundings as a result of their height.
  4. Moreover, there is nothing persuasive before us to demonstrate that it is necessary to allow buildings to exceed the appropriate height range within the tall building zones as stated at Criterion D of Policy LP4. 

 7. In the Design Review Panel (DRP) letter to DP9 (planning consultant). Dated 6 March 2024, they state: “In the first DRP, the Panel expressed concerns that the height of the building had not been properly considered in terms of its visual impact on heritage assets. This proposal is a significant departure from the recently Adopted Local Plan. Both the tower and podium trigger consideration as tall buildings and both are non-compliant with the mid-rise zoning of the Plan.”

It is more than regrettable that this application not only ignores Local Plan policy but blindsights the built context. Through semantic, tautological and flawed post-rationalisation, the applicants seek to justify a 34-storey tower, half the width of the Thames. Battersea and Albert Bridges are the markers on this stretch of the river Thames; this small site does not warrant such gross overdevelopment with a new over-scaled marker.

8. Allowing a tower even approaching this height in breach of Local Plan policy would set a dangerous precedent.

9. Whilst the existing building and its adjacent public realm are of poor quality, the proposal fails to add sufficient public realm enhancement to justify approval.  DRP letter to DP9 of 6 March 2024.

Unfortunately, we are not convinced the public benefits offered as mitigation are sufficient, and we still feel it seems overdevelopment for this tight and constrained site.

10. Battersea Bridge Road is part of the Red Route traffic control system. It has double red lines along the frontage of the site, right in front of the two proposed residential entrances. Double red lines prevent “any stopping, loading or parking at any time”.  The proposed design fails to respond to this simple reality, would encourage continuous breaches and add to the existing substantial traffic congestion.

para 111 of the NPPF states; “Development should only be prevented or refused on highway grounds if there would be an unacceptable impact on highway safety, or the residual cumulative impacts on the road network would be severe. 

11. The submitted proposal has an unresolved fire strategy with the residential means of escape discharging through the car park. Such fundamental design considerations, especially post Grenfell, should be fully resolved before application submission. It would appear irresponsible to consider this 34-storey application for consent before fully resolving the safety regulations.

12. The architect’s Design & Access Statement (DAS) claims to provide “exemplar homes” and a “high quality residential experience” yet 50% of the affordable flats are single aspect.

The London Plan Guidance – Housing Design Standards (June 2023) – section C4 Aspect, orientation, daylight and sunlight states in C4.1 New homes should be dual aspect unless exceptional circumstances make this impractical or undesirable;

One of the single aspect typical affordable flats (DAS P59) shows a bedroom furniture layout with a wardrobe halfway across its only window. Yet the GIA daylight report claims that the “scheme performs excellently in daylight overall”

13. The podium rooftop play area fails to meet GLA play space requirements for the affordable occupants and provides nothing at all for the market occupants.

14. Whilst GLA and London Local Plans seek to reduce reliance on private cars and encourage more sustainable movement.  The scheme provides only 18 car parking spaces for 143 apartments (8%). Where is it envisaged that 92% of the residents will park? The site has a PTAL 3 rating that represents only average public transport connectivity.

15. The submitted draft Construction Management Plan (CMP) implies an overall construction programme of c.two-and-a half to three years. Given the constraints and footprint of the site and the proposed height, this is unrealistically optimistic – it would undoubtedly take longer. Further, the draft CTMP sets out a requirement for 200 to 450 HGV movements per month during the development period on the main access route and this includes  Battersea Bridge itself. The increased congestion on this already heavily trafficked Thames crossing would massively exacerbate congestion and inconvenience in the wider area for  residents and businesses across south west London.


The proposed building would create huge harm to Chelsea’s  heritage.  Although located in Battersea it would be visible from all over Chelsea and would dominate and overwhelm the whole of the riverside. It would be completely out of character with the existing skyline and would set a precedent for further high rise development on the Wandsworth side of the river which would destroy the whole nature of the area.

As observed by the DRP, the submission appears to have been rushed by the applicant team. This appears to be due to the timing of the option to purchase the site subject to obtaining planning consent for the present scheme.

The application site is “a unique location on a bend of the River Thames”, hence, is of extreme visibility along both sides of the riverside. This location deserves comprehensive and timely consideration not an ill-considered, hasty and greedy overdevelopment of a tight and constrained site.

Any development should comply with the London Plan and the recently adopted Wandsworth Local Plan policies. It should contribute to this important context rather than seek to ignore and ride roughshod over its sensitive setting. Approving, or even considering, this application would be to make a mockery of the Local Plan process.

In the light of these concerns, we jointly request  that the Council for Wandsworth refuse this application.”



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