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Waterloo at the tipping point?

Waterloo is set for 2,500 additional homes, 15,000 additional workers, thousands of additional students, 4 million additional tourists, dozens of additional skyscrapers... Have we reached the tipping point?


Boris Johnson’s plan for London is being updated, with the growth in population 70% greater than previously anticipated, and set to grow to 10 million by 2026. To accommodate all these additional people London’s planners have identified thousands of sites for new housing, and have increased the targets for ‘Opportunity Areas’ like Waterloo.

The minimum target of 1,500 new homes in Waterloo – set in 2008 – has been increased by 67% to 2,500. Targets for student accommodation and hotels in central London have also increased. And the Garden Bridge would bring an additional 3.5 million visitors to the South Bank, the same number as come for the London Eye. Can Waterloo take all of this development? A capacity study in 2008 established the original targets as the maximum Waterloo could take. So how can it now take more? The Shell Centre and Elizabeth House developments together would provide around 1,000 new homes and 6,000 jobs – which means we would need more high dense developments like this in the area, like the one proposed for 54 Kennington Rd and 128-150 Blackfriars Rd (images above).

But the problem is London-wide. Because there are nowhere enough sites in the capital to take this growth, the Further Alterations to the London Plan (FALP) proposes that declining shopping centres are redeveloped with high density housing – which will inevitably be in tall buildings – and that students and older people in particular are moved there. This has caused huge opposition, and WCDG and many other community organisations have been making strong representations to a government Inspector at the ‘Examination in Public’ which began in September.

Even the planners admit that these changes to Boris’ London Plan are just sticking plasters over a massive problem, and there will have to be a full-scale review and a new plan in the next few years – but it won’t happen until we get a new Mayor in 2016. The challenges that will have to meet are set out in Boris’ parting shot – an Infrastructure Plan for London to 2050, which proposes all sorts of goodies including new tube lines, parks, schools and homes, eventually… although its not clear how this would be funded.

Can London wait?  Is this a case of jam tomorrow? More and more people are cramming into London, sleeping nine to a room, living in garden sheds, unable to find school places for their children – while rents and property prices continue to soar and swanky speculative flats in prime locations like Waterloo are purchased off-plan as investment and left vacant. Many community organisations across London are joining together to develop a vision for a city that works with local communities, creating real homes for real people, and jobs, shops, schools and parks where they are needed.

How should your WCDG respond? Come to the meeting on Weds 17th September at 7pm at the Waterloo Action Centre and make your comments on

  • Garden Bridge planning application
  • 54 Kennington Rd – 22 storey tower hotel proposal
  • 128-150 Blackfriars Rd - planning application for 336 flats in 27 storey tower
  • Mayor of London Infrastructure Plan for London


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