The issue

Raising public awareness and providing a platform for debate about the extraordinary proposal to build ultra-high-rise tower blocks on Bermondsey Street at the corner with Snowsfields/St Thomas Street.

Southwark Council has been busy talking to Irvine Sellar, developer of The Shard, about how he can make back some of  the money he is expected to lose on the very expensive ego trip that is The Shard.  It produced a supremely audacious plan that was given a secretive airing to selected locals in December of 2008.  This involved the astonishing proposal to bring three towers – from which residents could ‘see the English Channel’ to the conservation area focused on the medieval Bermondsey Street.

To facilitate the Sellar scheme – that they obviously realized was incendiary – Southwark Council have employed the device of zoning the improbable site for ultra-high rise buildings.  The instrument of choice is a local development plan (SPD) for the area they call Bankside, Borough and London Bridge that requires minimal consultation (although perhaps not as minimal as theirs has been). This can be used to pre-empt predictable objections and present local people with a fait accompli.  The strategy is not complicated:  Make sure nobody knows what is going on and nobody objects.  Once people next door get to know of the plan to build 50 floors outside their bedroom window – where they are the subject of quite different statutory consultation – they are told they can object to the colour of the building but not the height – which is adopted policy.  Had they wished to challenge the height, they will be told, they had to do so long ago when the SPD – about which they knew nothing – was in consultation.  Simple but effective.

The story so far

Site plan and ownership

How it would look

What will be lost

The immediate task

To force Southwark Council to engage in a genuine consultation process over highly controversial plans that they have pushed along on the sly.  Only a negligible number of in-the-know local people had any idea what was afoot until we undertook the very consultation process that was Southwark Council’s legal and democratic obligation.  This was of course no coincidence – they didn’t want you to know.

That they were trying to slip under the radar has been made abundantly clear by their response once they were rumbled.  They manipulated their consultation rules to enable them to discard 90% of the objections they received and tried to stop us telling you what they were doing with a threatened injunction.

The story is told here:

How Southwark threatened us with an injunction

How they kept you from knowing

What can be done

Download objection/complaint letters


  1. Kerry says:

    I have come across this post on another web site. It looks like there is more people willing to fight this that we have not yet reached.

  2. Rachel says:

    I am sending the objection letter off today…hopefully that will help. Think the proposed buildings are hideous and would ruin the local area. Shard is already too close for comfort.

  3. John Corey says:


    There are no buildings being proposed. The image is a mash up of a building from central London inserted into a photo of Bermondsey Street. Useful in some ways for a discussion but not even close to an actual proposal.

    The SPD is trying to set out general guidelines so that actual planning proposals can be submitted in the years to come. If the SPD is wrong all the proposals will be flawed by the same mistake. Best that the SPD get debated fully so it is fit for purpose over the coming years.

  4. Russell Gray says:

    John, Rachel

    The photoshop montage is in fact almost exactly what was proposed by Sellar at his preview many months ago. See the model pictured in our section ‘The Story so far’ in ‘The Issue’ section.

    It is of course true that what we need to fight at present is the Southwark SPD. But nobody believes this is other than facilitation of Sellar’s proposal. Of course, the proposal itself is economically fanciful in the extreme and cannot happen for commercial reasons (see feature to come in a few days). Southwark Council may or may not be smart enough to recognise this but it means that the principle will be established, opening the door to a budget version of the Sellar plan. I don’t know if they are more dangerous smart or stupid.

  5. John Corey says:


    When you say “see the model pictured in our section…” do you mean Harley Gray’s picture of the model at Seller’s proposal meeting? The one at the link (http://www.bstowers.com/?p=119)?

    Otherwise I am looking at the wrong place.

  6. Adam says:


    I accept that you have seen a model of this design in its first incarnation. However the photograph you have uploaded is from over 16 months ago.
    Planning has not been submitted and the design consultation process is still alive. No renders have been released, however if you look at a more recent massing floorplate diagram it would suggest that the design has substancially changed from your photograph.
    I think it is great that local people care about the built environment, however I do think it damages your cause somewhat to suggest that these towers will be “100% Accurate” against a crude mock up of 3 Centre Points. A Tower that was designed and built over 40 years ago and made of Concrete.

    I just think people should oppose these buildings on the design merit. Not a misguided render.

  7. russell gray says:


    The model I was referring to is indeed the one photographed at the Sellar meeting. It seems some people think there has been a revolutionary leap forward at Hertzog & de Meuron in 15 months. We will be delighted to publish the results if anyone can provide them.


    I will be happy at some time in the future to host extended debate about building design. Right now the issue is whether anyone but our omniscient local planners and Sellar should be allowed a voice.

    Why steel and glass is intrinsically superior to concrete can be among the topics. I have worked quite extensively with both (although I have no pre-fabricated skyscrapers in my portfolio) and to set them in competition is like setting watercolours against oils or modelling against carving.

    Do you think the heroic new Sellar structures will have a design life of less than 40 years? Have you any reason to think they would stand the test of time any better than Centrepoint? I often quote the Portuguese proverb: ‘Time does not respect what is done without time.’ Applying this dictum, they would fair much worse.

    Do let me have details of the ‘massing floorplate’ so we can give all due credit to its creators.

  8. James says:

    Very good using Centrepoint in the pictures its a great building grade two listed I think. Copy this to see a real mock up of it http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=787222&page=27.

  9. Adam says:

    Hi Russell,

    Here is a link to the released Scoping plans.


  10. bstowers says:

    Hi Adam,

    We have these. However they are very unclear and are the only images available.

  11. Bonnie says:

    Er, no Adam they should onject on whatever grounds they deem to be significant. Nobody wants the towers built except Property developers and tasteless Yuppies. This area is already beautiful as it is. Leave it alone. Bermondsey street has already turned into a bit of an insipid Yuppie haven. Let’s not allow it to get any worse.

  12. Russell Gray says:

    Bonnie and all.

    Have you downloaded you letter to the new Leader of the Council, Peter John yet? We are pursuing Simon Hughes offer to come and listen to local discontent over consultation and it would be desirable if the Leader of the Council also felt an obligation to come at the same time. You can find the letter in the menu on the right.

  13. Jerrod Ruiz says:

    You’ve done it once more. Incredible post.

  14. Tim Owen says:

    The images on the posters bear not similarity to what is being proposed. How can you rally to protest be trusted if you grabbing attention with blatantly wrong images? More information is required. I would suggest that any one on this site does their own research before making decision. Then contact the relevant body. This site should not your only source for such a important development in the area.

  15. AndyRDG says:

    Its sad that London is beginning to succumb to the pressure of a few rich folk who want to look down the rest of us struggling for the scraps under their ivory towers…heres the next example…I’m sorry skyscraper geeks, but if you want to see towers, why not lap it up in Dubai?

  16. Michael says:

    Will be a crazy thing to build high-rise buildings in a very alredy overcrouded area.
    The best place to build this kind of building is in old kent road when most of the building does not exit the ground floor.

  17. Legatis says:

    Just love the 3 centrepoints you’ve bodged together for an 8 year old’s impression of the proposed scheme.

    Without trying to insult you all too much, your all a bunch of speculating misinformed nimbys with acceptance issues. Get over yourselves and let it be…

    You Mugs x

  18. Thats soooooo funny! LOL

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