Morgan Stanley clashes with new London mayor

A £1bn office redevelopment planned by MSREF near London’s Waterloo Station is being opposed by Boris Johnson, the new mayor of London, who was voted in by Londoners at the start of May.

Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds and partner P&O Estates have clashed with the newly-elected mayor of London, Boris Johnson, over a 1.4 million square foot redevelopment project near the city’s Waterloo Station.

Yesterday evening, the planning body of Lambeth Borough Council, the local authority with responsibility for the area, said it was minded to approve the application for the £1 billion (€1.2 billion; $2 billion) scheme. However, Boris Johnson, the mayor of London – who has the power to contest applications of potential strategic importance – wrote to the authority expressing his opposition to the scheme and the impact it could have on the neighboring area, which includes Westminster Abbey, London’s old County Hall and the Houses of Parliament. The scheme has been dubbed the “Three Ugly Sisters” by some opponents in reference to the three high-rise building designed by architects Allies & Morrison.

In a letter to Lambeth Council, Johnson wrote: “The mayor has concluded that the proposal is unacceptable in strategic planning terms due to the impact of the proposal on the setting of the Westminster World Heritage Site; the view from the footbridge in St. James's Park, and the setting of County Hall and the Royal Festival Hall from various view points.”

The former Conservative member of parliament, who was voted in by Londoners in May and stepped down as an MP in the House of Commons shortly after, has made it clear he is not in favour of skyscrapers as much as his Labour supporting predecessor, Ken Livingstone.

David Hudson of P&O Estates said in a statement the firm would work with the mayor’s office to “resolve issues and bring forward this crucial phase of the regeneration of the [London] South Bank.”

The scheme envisages the demolition of a 1960s office block, Elizabeth House, and replacing it with three towers, the highest of which is 33 storys. Two of the high rise blocks are earmarked for office use while the other will contain apartments. The planning application will now be referred to the UK government’s Office for London. The mayor has 14 days to decide whether to direct Lambeth to refuse planning consent.