The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

C20 backs ‘Save Our Southbank’ campaign and appeals to Secretary of State

Make Architects proposed development at 72 Upper Ground, nicknamed ‘the slab’ for its overbearing presence on the neighbouring National Theatre and IBM Building.

Image: Make Architects

C20 Society has written to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Greg Clark MP, strongly objecting to the proposed development at 72 Upper Ground on London’s South Bank, currently the location of the former London Television Centre / ITV Studios. Nicknamed ‘the slab’ by former C20 Chairman, Sir Simon Jenkins (writing in the Guardian), the scheme by Make Architects consists of two interconnected towers of 14 and 25 storeys, which have been estimated to be 225% larger than the existing buildings on the site.

This comes after the disappointing news that Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has refused to intervene and call-in the plans that were initially approved by Lambeth Council in March 2022. Campaigners, led by the Coin Street Community Group, are now lobbying the Secretary of State to order a full public inquiry and urging the public to get behind the ‘Save Our Southbank’ message.

C20 has objected to the plans on the basis that the proposed new building in its current form would significantly harm the setting of the adjacent listed buildings – the National Theatre (1969-76) and IBM Building (1979-84), both by architect Denys Lasdun – and have a profoundly detrimental effect on the special character and appearance of the riverfront site, which is both a designated conservation area and positive contributor to strategic London views.

The #SaveOurSouthbank campaign has estimated the new development to be 225% larger than the current buildings on the site – the former ITV / London Weekend Television studios.

Credit: Coin Street Community

London’s South Bank is home to some of the country’s finest post-war buildings and public spaces, and its heritage significance is recognised in numerous listings and in its designation as a conservation area. As outlined in the designation report for the conservation area (1982): “it is important that care is taken to ensure sensitive changes to existing buildings and spaces”.

The Society considers that the proposed development would be an over-development of a site within a sensitive historic environment. The development’s substantial size and heavy, riverfront-loaded massing would impact on close views of post-war listed buildings from the Queen’s Walk and would impede wide views, particularly of the Grade II* National Theatre from Blackfriars Bridge to the east. We have encouraged the applicant to revise the design to substantially reduce the building’s height and riverfront front massing.

More than 4,000 members of the public have already signed the ‘Save our South Bank’ petition, with objections also received from Florence Eshalomi, the Labour MP for Vauxhall, and Marina Ahmad, the Labour London Assembly member for the area. Meanwhile, Historic England have warned the development would be harmful to strategic views of St Paul’s Cathedral and Somerset House, as well as the National Theatre and the IBM building, all of which are nationally listed.

What can I do to help?

  1. Add your voice to the 4,000 people and counting by signing and sharing the petition.
  2. Register your objection directly and write to the Secretary of State.
    FAO: Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State
    Subject: 72 Upper Ground Development Objection
The National Theatre (1969-76) by Denys Lasdun, Grade II* listed.

Image: Philip Vile

The neighbouring IBM Building (1979-84) by Denys Lasdun, Grade II listed. Soon to undergo restoration and modernisation works led by AHMM architects.

Image: AHMM Architects