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Wed 16 Oct 2013 02:40 PM

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Inquiry into Qatar-backed $1.6bn project to start in Nov

Planning inspector to consider plans to redevelop the Shell Centre on the South Bank in London

Inquiry into Qatar-backed $1.6bn project to start in Nov
An artists impression of the Shell Centre development.

A public inquiry into controversial Qatar-backed plans to redevelop the Shell Centre on the South Bank in London will take place next month.

The project involving developer Qatari Diar plans to redevelop the site next to the landmark London Eye wheel, creating a 1.45 million square foot complex comprising the existing 27-storey Shell Centre and eight new buildings with shops and offices and 877 homes.

The inquiry is due to begin on November 21 and sit for a total of 12 days.

The inquiry, which will be presided over by planning inspector John Braithwaite, will consider the impact of the development on the setting of the Westminster world heritage site.

Lambeth Council approved the $1.6 billion scheme, which is being developed by Qatari Diar and Canary Wharf Group, in May.

Construction was due to start at the end of this year, with a completion date of 2019.

The work is now on hold, however, after the government intervened to consider issues including the effect any new scheme would have on views of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben - a UNESCO world heritage site on the opposite side of the Thames.

Last month communities secretary Eric Pickles made the surprise decision to 'call in' the plans for the Shell Centre site for public inquiry.

UNESCO, the United Nations body which administers the designation of world heritage sites, has expressed strong concerns about high-rise development in Waterloo.

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