See France from here

A new high-rise London quarter, bigger than Canary Wharf, could be under way before the end of the year. David Spittles reports


A master plan for a new quarter - bigger than Canary Wharf - will include a cluster of residential towers close to the Shard of Glass, the super-size skyscraper being built on the forecourt of London Bridge station.

Despite the credit crunch, the project could start before the end of the year. Guy’s Hospital, which has a 30-acre campus on adjoining land, is included in the scheme.

‘From the highest apartments, owners will be able to see across the channel to the coast of France’


Sellar Property Group, the developer, has commissioned Tate Modern architects Herzog & De Meuron to design three mixed-use towers for 380 homes in buildings of up to 820ft - very high but smaller than the Shard which, at nearly 1,000ft, will be the tallest building in Europe when complete in 2012.

The area around London Bridge station is a regeneration priority for Southwark council. It wants to turn the scruffy, unappealing complex of Victorian railway arches along St Thomas Street into a new pedestrian-friendly zone linking with Hay’s Galleria on the riverbank, villagey Bermondsey Street and Borough Market.

As well as high-rise flats and streetscape improvements, Sellar’s plans include a public lido, shops, cafés, bars and a new local school. Unusually, the council is not demanding on-site social housing.

Community consultation is under way ahead of a planning application being lodged on 17 February. High-profile local residents include fashion designer Zandra Rhodes and artist Andrew Logan.

Any redevelopment of world-famous Guy’s Hospital is likely to prove controversial as well as complicated. Redevelopment would probably involve replacement of at least some medical facilities with offices.

The current site consists of 19 buildings, including the 34-storey Guy’s Tower - widely regarded as inefficient and an eyesore - and listed quadrangles.

Guy’s no longer has an accident and emergency department and its location in the very north of the borough is inconvenient for many Southwark residents. But there has been a hospital on the site since 1721.

The Shard will alter London’s skyline more than any tower yet built. It is described as a “vertical village” because it will incorporate offices, a Shangri La luxury hotel, fashion boutiques and 12 apartments at the summit, from which occupiers will be able to see across the English Channel to the coast of France.


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