Rogers Stirk Harbour's Riverside South project in Canary Wharf
Mayor Boris Johnson accused of exaggerating client’s “commitment” to Riverside South scheme
The future of one of Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners’ largest projects, a £1.5 billion banking headquarters in London, remains in serious doubt despite claims by mayor Boris Johnson that there was a “commitment” to build it.
Following news that banking group JP Morgan Chase had purchased Canary Wharf’s 25 Bank Street building to use as its European investment banking headquarters, Johnson said on Monday morning that the bank was also committed to developing the 1.9 m sq m Riverside South, a double whammy he hailed as a “tremendous coup for London and the UK”.
However, it has since emerged that there is a commitment only to re-start work on the foundations of Riverside South, building up to ground level, with a final decision on the scheme to be made before 2016.
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who is also Johnson’s Labour rival for the 2012 election, accused Johnson of spinning and said this was becoming a hallmark of his tenure as mayor.
“The whole of his administration is based on spin - I think Boris might be Alistair Campbell’s love child,” he told BD.
Labour London Assembly member John Biggs, who represents east London and the City, said it was the job of the mayor to talk up London but warned Johnson to “stay close to the facts”.
In response, a spokesperson for the Mayor said: “JP Morgan is committed to working with the Canary Wharf Group to develop Riverside South and will restart work on the site.
“Restarting this project, which had been on hold, is a huge plus for London…JP Morgan will decide themselves whether or not to continue until completion themselves or sell their interest to another party.
“With long-term demand for office space outstripping supply, it is very likely that Riverside South will be completed in phases as market conditions allow. No one would expect or want the market to return to the irrational exuberance prior to the crash of 2008/09.”
Riverside South, which comprises two towers linked by a lower central building, is located on the south west corner of the Docklands business district.
Canary Wharf Group commissioned what was then Richard Rogers & Partners to deisgn the high-end scheme in 2002 and is now acting as construction and development manager on the project.
If built, the development would boast a significant frontage onto the River Thames – one of the last remaining riverside areas in the Canary Wharf precinct.