Heritage campaigners have strongly criticised plans for Sellar’s Vinegar Yard development in Bermondsey, saying it would “gut” the historical architecture of the site.
The development would see the Vinegar Yard warehouse turned into a sixteen-story high block, with the façade of the building retained.
Campaigners at the Victorian Society have criticised the design saying it would damage the historic warehouse, while the building’s height would “contribute to the steady destruction of the historic character of Southwark.”
However, Sellar – the firm also behind the Shard – fiercely defended its proposals, saying they were the result of “detailed and sensitive consideration” and “extensive consultation” with local residents.
The Victorian Society said the bid to ‘gut’ the original fabric of the warehouse, dating from between 1857 to 1872, would remove a direct link of Southwark’s industrial heritage.
The structure would also be out of character for the area surrounding Bermondsey Street, and “would set a precedent for further high-rise buildings in the area to be erected.”
Olivia Stockdale, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society, said: “The proposed plans would render the remains of the warehouse as wallpaper to the plinth of a glass office block.
“The proposed use of glass rather than brick would further create an extreme contrast with other buildings in the conservation area.
“It is important that despite its proximity to London Bridge, Bermondsey maintains its own historic individuality, and any development should be sympathetic to the area and its character.”
But Sellar responded that the warehouse was been vacant for over ten years and is in disrepair.
“The beautiful glass extension will restore the warehouse from dereliction to a new and long-term working life,” a spokesperson said.
The design, by architects Renzo Piano Buildings Workshop, “sets the rehabilitated warehouse within a new piazza at the heart of a new commercial district immediately south of the recently enlarged London Bridge Station,” he added.
The proposed scheme would attract around 1,600 permanent jobs to the area, said the spokesman.