Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Powers for Mayor - Who Wanted Three Blocks Built Higher

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Powers for Mayor - Who Wanted Three Blocks Built Higher

Article excerpt


THE Mayor of London's powers to grant planning permission for important buildings could alter London's skyline for ever against the wishes of residents, borough leaders warn today.

They say that skyscrapers could start appearing all over the capital, despite elected councillors voting to block them, given Ken Livingstone's stated fondness for tall buildings.

The Government has just agreed to let the Mayor have new powers.

He will be able to approve " strategic" planning appl ications, although ministers are yet to define what "strategic" means. He will also be able to override local consultations on planning policies and order boroughs to conform with his planning priorities.

The Mayor has said he expects "spectacular rows" with councils that have been "too timid".

He has consistently urged developers to build higher but schemes have been reduced by local planners.

One example is the Tate Tower, next to Tate Modern.

Following talks with the Mayor's office, developer London Town proposed a 32-storey building. Southwark planners insisted 20 storeys was the maximum.

Mr Livingstone threatened to rule against the tower unless it was higher. A 20-storey tower was approved but has not yet been built.

The Mayor has also spent large sums of London taxpayers' money defending tall buildings at public inquiries after the local councils and English Heritage turned them down. He spent about [pounds sterling]100,000 supporting plans for the 50-storey Vauxhall Tower after Lambeth turned it down.

He backed the Heron Tower in the City and the 1,000ft "shard of glass" at London Bridge.

The Mayor was also in favour of the 37- and 25-storey towers in Lots Road that Kensington& Chelsea rejected.

Land Securities has been told to reduce the height of its proposed 45-storey "Walkie-Talkie" tower by 10 to protect views of St Paul's from Ludgate Hill. …

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