Shell Centre plans for London's South Bank face inquiry

image captionAbout 6,000 people will work across the site once it is completed, it is claimed
image captionThe development is scheduled to be completed by 2019
image captionA new entrance to Waterloo station will be built

Plans to redevelop part of London's South Bank are to face additional scrutiny, including a local inquiry, despite being approved by the mayor.

Houses, offices, shops and restaurants are to be constructed in nine buildings that would sit around the existing 27-storey Shell Centre.

Concerns over whether the scheme meets existing design and conservation rules have been raised by the government.

Lambeth Council and Boris Johnson both passed the scheme earlier this year.

It would provide "a huge economic boost" and "hundreds of much-needed homes and jobs", the mayor said in July, praising its "world-class" architecture.

But Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has called in the proposals, describing them as a matter of "substantial controversy".

"The process will include reviewing all relevant considerations, including the design and any potential impact on the Unesco World Heritage Site by Parliament Square," spokesman for his department said.

An estimated 6,000 people would work at the site which is beside the London Eye and is due to be completed in 2019, if approved.

The application involves demolishing the Hungerford, York and Chicheley wings of the Shell building and a pedestrian link bridge.

A separate scheme nearby has been proposed to revamp the Royal Festival Hall and BFI Southbank cinema.

It is opposed by skateboarders who objected to plans to move their long-standing site and by Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, who feared it would harm the area.

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