‘Shocking disregard’: City Hall planning hearing for Texan billionaire’s 98-metre Brixton Hondo Tower delayed

“This building design is ugly, detracts from its surroundings and will be like an open wound for central Brixton for decades.”

Campaigners against controversial plans for a new Brixton tower block have blasted City Hall for postponing a planning hearing set to decide the issue.

The fate of the Hondo Tower scheme, on Brixton’s Pope Road, has been delayed again after London mayor Sadiq Khan agreed to hold back the decision-making meeting slated for Friday, June 10, on the proposed Lambeth skyscraper.

It comes after the applicant, billionaire Texan DJ Taylor McWilliams, requested the delay after “significant concerns” were raised by Historic England (HE), a City Hall statement said.

Plans for the Hondo Tower in Brixton. Photo: Lambeth Council/Adjaye Associates Architects

The site is just on the border of Brixton’s conservation area, which HE said encompasses one of the “best preserved and most characterful historic town centres in London”.

HE also noted “Brixton’s vibrant, multicultural character” and the area’s “distinctive and culturally significant spaces” and “strong sense of place” in its objection to the scheme.

Other objections to the 98m high skyscraper include the area’s Labour MP Helen Hayes, the Brixton Society and the Victorian Society, as well as thousands of local residents who signed a petition opposing the plans.

The computer-generated image of the proposed tower. Credit: Adjaye Associates/Lambeth Council

One statement of objection on Lambeth Council’s website states: “This building design is ugly, detracts from its surroundings and will be like an open wound for central Brixton for decades.

“Please don’t give this awful design any more oxygen.”

While another reads: “That domination of the skyline will make the centre of Brixton feel less ‘human’, more oppressive and will feel like an everyday reminder that if you are a billionaire you can do what you want and bend every planning application your way, irrespective of the rules everyone else has to follow.”

Activists from Save Nour, a group formed after McWilliams evicted popular local shop Nour Cash and Carry, have slammed the delay as benefitting the proposers of the project.

A spokesperson for the group, which had been planning to bus supporters from Brixton to the hearing at City Hall, in Canary Wharf, wrote on Twitter: “Coach booked, representations rehearsed, supporters updated, daily stalls organised.

“And we just learned the hearing has been postponed again - indefinitely - because Hondo & Taylor think they might lose. Shocking disregard for the community. Mayor of London, what is going on?”

And Danai Nardi, from Save Nour, told LondonWorld: “At last the voices of our community are starting to be heard.

“We are sick of schemes being supposedly designed to enhance our communities but doing the exact opposite.

“The Windrush Generation and the people who have made Brixton what it is today have been marginalised and priced out of Brixton.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan. Photo: Getty

They continued: “The Hondo Tower is the biggest attempt yet at gentrification, and would drive out small scale local grassroots and community organisations and traders.

“It now seems more likely than ever that Hondo will have to drop the idea of this tall and massive building.

“Only a scheme that complies with policy and is acceptable to HE and the local community is likely to succeed.”

While Tsiresy Domingos, a civil engineering student and anti-tower campaigner, said: “Gentrifiers don’t actually go to the same businesses as a local community, they bring their own artisan bakeries for instance, all of these shops that locals don’t really go to. ‘Together but separate’ is both an accurate and depressing description of a gentrifying neighbourhood.”

In a statement published on the planning website, a City Hall spokesperson said: “Following a request from the applicant received on May 31 to postpone the representation hearing for Pope’s Road scheduled for June 10, without prejudice to the mayor’s position and any subsequent decision he may make, the mayor has agreed to postpone the hearing.”

They added: “This is on the basis that: significant concerns have been raised by Historic England and others which would require commensurate changes if these are to be overcome; and re-engagement should involve the local community as well as statutory bodies.

“Notice of a new date for the representation hearing will be given in due course.”

The proposed site for tower block next to the historic Brixton Village market. Credit: Adjaye Associates/Lambeth Council

A spokesperson for the mayor of London said: “The mayor received a request from Hondo Enterprises to delay the Pope’s Road planning hearing scheduled for June 10 to allow the developer to consider changes to the scheme in order to address concerns raised by Historic England and others.

“This temporary delay was granted on condition that this is done in engagement with the local community as well as statutory bodies.

“A new date for the planning hearing will be announced in due course.”

A spokesperson for Hondo said: “We’re committed to delivering a scheme at Pope’s Road which creates the benefits and opportunities the wider community deserve, which is why we’re working with the GLA to refine our plans.”