Lambeth Council’s planning department is still recommending a controversial 20-storey office block be approved in Brixton despite considerable opposition.  

The scheme, a joint venture by AG Hondo Pope’s Road BV and Hondo Enterprises, involves a 19-storey plus ground floor office block connected to a nine-storey block, and includes dedicated community space and a public square.   

Hondo bought Market Row and Brixton Village in 2018, while the site concerned is home to Sports Direct in Pope’s Road.  

The decision on the proposals was deferred in late August. At the time several members of the planning committee seemed inclined to reject the application, which had received more than 700 objections and few comments of support – though planning officers said an additional 140 comments of support had been submitted, including 31 market traders.   

Officers at the time acknowledged that the tower would cut off “major” amounts of daylight to some homes, and that the height was a departure from local plan policy.  

But they recommended the scheme be approved because of the proposed community space, improvement to local transport infrastructure, new public square and toilets, as well job creation and office space. 

Now the number of objections has risen to 1,662, with 374 comments of support.  

The decision was deferred in August to allow time for Hondo to respond to committee members’ concerns, including on design, daylight, and sustainability – the viability of office space in light of the Covid-19 pandemic was raised numerous times. 

The changes made to the proposals relate mostly to design and include lightening the colour of the building’s façade, reducing the size of the feature beam on top of the building, and moving the dedicated community space to a more central position within the market.  

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Despite the changes, Historic England, the Brixton Society, and the Brixton Recreation Centre are still against the development. The groups say the changes do not mitigate the “level of harm” to the area 

But in the updated report officers said: “Officers consider that the scheme is acceptable and that the many planning benefits the development would deliver over and above those required by policy are sufficient to outweigh the identified impacts on heritage and residential amenity.” 

At the previous meeting, Hondo owner Taylor McWilliams, said the lack of office space in the area “is preventing growth, local jobs, and opportunities” and that businesses starting in Brixton “often have to move as they grow”.  

“Our proposals look to address this problem by creating a critical mass of 200,000 square feet of office space, which will in turn bring 2,000 jobs to Brixton, £2.3 million in annual business rates, and create £2.8 million a year in extra spend for the local economy,” he said. 

Lambeth’s planning applications committee is set to make the decision on Tuesday, November 3.