Berkeley Group’s ‘One Blackfriars’ is a development of 274 luxury homes in a 50 storey glass tower with a total development value of £700m.

There will be no affordable housing on-site or off-site, instead the developer will pay £29m (4% of total value) in a series of staged payments to the council, towards its council house building programme.

The One Blackfriars planning committee report explains that the £29m in-lieu payment was lower than the £35m minimum policy requirement, on the grounds that the development will be providing a “viewing lounge on the 32nd level, which would be made available to the public by prior arrangement”. (para. 45)

CGI of the ‘public’ viewing lounge submitted to Southwark’s planning committee

However, the small print in the planning application documents show that the public viewing lounge won’t be so public. It says the viewing lounge will be accessible only to companies, organisations and residents in Southwark’s SE1 (riverside) postcode, who will need to book in advance and pay a fee of £50 plus £30 per hour. This is good news for the Council and its corporate events and good news for Council leader Peter John who lives in a neighbouring riverside development, but not much use to the rest of us elsewhere in the borough.

The officer’s report for the planning application says that (despite policy requirements for zero parking) the developer initially applied for 70% of the flats at One Blackfriars to have parking. This was negotiated down to 40% (110 parking spaces) but the developer argued that anything lower than this would affect the viability of the scheme and its ability to provide s106 contributions:

The development came under fire in January 2015, when its promoters produced a promotional film showing a couple arriving at the development in a private helicopter.