72 Upper Ground Public Inquiry

microphone looking onto a crowd

We are approaching the end of the second week of the public inquiry regarding the proposal to redevelop the former ITV studios at 72 Upper Ground. 'The Slab', as it has been coined by Simon Jenkins in The Guardian, has gained national press coverage over the previous months, dubbed by Rowan Moore in The Observer as a “brute of a building”, criticised for "squeezing as much profitable volume as possible out of the site”. 

The current plans are excessive, overbearing and overly dominant, damaging the conservation area and casting Coin Street housing co-operatives, the riverside walkway and public spaces such as Bernie Spain Gardens into shadow. The South Bank is a vibrant hub of culture and heritage in London, attracting millions of visitors every year. We must ensure it stays that way. Read our full list of concerns here

Local residents, councillors, MPs, businesses, organisations and associations are deeply concerned by the plans and mounted a successful campaign drawing attention to these concerns, which resulted in the application being 'called in' by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, Rt. Hon Greg Clark MP in August 2022. 

The start of the inquiry on 6 December 2022 marks a huge achievement by the local community, supported by our Communications team and number of other organisations including Waterloo Community Development Group, 20th Century Society, South Bank and Waterloo Neighbours and Lambeth Estate Residents Association to stand up for our neighbourhood in SE1. 

Read more about the public inquiry here.

Over the past two weeks, we've heard moving accounts from a number of local residents, councillors, businesses and associations, and our MP Florence Eshalomi (Vauxhall), sharing just how much our area means to them and why it is so important that its character is retained.  

Tom Keller, one of our local residents captured this perfectly in his representation to the inspector:  

"I’m so proud to be part of our community, and proud as a Londoner that we have this fabulously popular area for people from all over to enjoy. People fought hard back in the 80s to stop massive office development, which is why this stretch of river has got the personality it has, and why it doesn’t feel ‘corporate’. We must not turn the clock back. Don’t spoil our river walk. Don’t spoil our gardens. And don’t put my neighbours in their homes into shadow. Please listen to people who have lived here and know the area well." 

Ivor Dembina, local resident, captured the sentiment of many in the local community:

"I’ve seen it happen many times in recent weeks, with my own eyes: when local people irrespective of their age, gender, and social class, are first informed about this proposal, there is in their response, no resentment, no bitterness, no anger.  Just astonishment, forgive me for repeating the word, ‘astonishment’ that this proposal has got even this far."

Florence Eshalomi MP, Member of Parliament for Vauxhall raised:

"I do not believe that the merits of this application outweigh the significant number of negative consequences that I have just set out. This is a view supported by the overwhelming majority of over 300 public representations made to the application – many of which were from my constituents. It is my role to represent them here today. I therefore hope that this application will be rejected in favour of one which uses this key strategic site for the benefit of the wider community that this area serves."

The inquiry will continue from 3-6 January 2023 and you can watch it on the livestream here: https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/planning-building-control/planning-applications/public-inquiry-60-72-upper-ground  

You can still donate here to assist the SOS Save Our South Bank action group with legal costs to #StopTheSlab! 

All donations are managed by Waterloo Community Development Group (WCDG) to help #StopTheSlab.