Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

KEN'S TOWER TRIP; despite the Passionate Objections of Residents, English Heritage, Councils and Now Perhaps Even the UN, Nothing Gets in the Way of Ken Livingstone's Urge to Change the London Skyline. Can No One Stop Him Getting Them Up, Asks Hettie Harvey

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

KEN'S TOWER TRIP; despite the Passionate Objections of Residents, English Heritage, Councils and Now Perhaps Even the UN, Nothing Gets in the Way of Ken Livingstone's Urge to Change the London Skyline. Can No One Stop Him Getting Them Up, Asks Hettie Harvey

Article excerpt

Byline: HETTIE HARVEY

1.TESCOTOWER Where 100 West Cromwell Road, SW5.

Architect Woods Bagot (Southern Cross Tower, Melbourne; Inacity Tower, Manchester).

Developer Tesco and Australian developers Multiplex (Wembley Stadium; White City), UK executive chairman James Tuckey.

Vital statistics 92m.

When Scheduled to be completed by March 2009.

Why Residential use - 435 apartments.

Need to knowThe 27-floor tower will be the biggest in Kensington & Chelsea for 30 years, built over the existing Tesco superstore on the corner of West Cromwell Road and Warwick Road. The lower part of the building will include 40 per cent affordable housing, with a health club at entry level and landscaped gardens.

What's it like The tower looks like a giant open book; the design has been almost universally denounced.

Any objections Local residents organised a huge petition (even though Multiplex had dropped the name Tesco 'by mistake' from their application) against what will be the third tallest building in K&C, visible from the borough's parks and squares. They were lent support by the government's design watchdog, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, which told the council that 'a fundamental rethink' was required for such a major site. But the council, with support from the GLA, gave permission for the scheme.

2.VICTORIA TOWERS Where Bressenden Place, SW1.

Architect Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (The Shanghai World Financial Centre).

Developer Land Securities plc. Chairman is Peter Birch.

M&S boss Stuart Rose is a non-executive director.

Vital statistics The towers would reach 50 storeys.

When Completion unlikely before 2020.

Why Offices and shops.

Need to knowThe location is less than 100m from Buckingham Palace. Land Securities withdrew plans last year for three skyscrapers between 25 and 42 storeys after Westminster Council wouldn't allow more than one tower over 12 storeys. With new planning powers, the Mayor will be able to overrule council decisions. A council spokesman says, 'Last year, we asked the developers to come back with one smaller tower and they have come back with two bigger ones.' What's it like Early images show rounded edges and the towers seem to taper towards the ground.

Any objections English Heritage objected because 'hugely important events which have involved millions [of people] have happened in that landscape', and Lord St John of Fawsley said, 'This view must be preserved.

It is quintessentially British.' Ken's adviser Alex Bax responded, 'We know tall buildings are being considered at Victoria and that seems appropriate. In principle the Mayor thinks the location meets the tall building test' - whatever that is. Transport for London, which owns part of the site, unsurprisingly also supports the plans.

5. LONDON BRIDGETOWER AKA THE SHARD OF GLASS Where 32 London Bridge Street, SE1.

Architect Renzo Piano (Pompidou Centre; the Art Institute of Chicago).

Developer Sellar Property Group, a family company run by Irvine and James Sellar.

Vital statistics 310m - London's tallest building.

When Due to be completed late 2011.

Why It's set to be the jewel in Ken's skyscraper crown and the building's anchor tenant is to be Transport for London, which will occupy floors 4 to 10, at a cost to the taxpayer of [pounds sterling]7.5 million a year.

Need to knowThe Shard will house offices; the highest residential properties in London, with 12 floors (53 to 65) of flats; a Shangri La hotel (floors 34 to 52); a midlevel piazza at 121m, with restaurants; and Europe's highest viewing gallery, on the 72nd floor, at 243.84m. The nickname was first coined by English Heritage as an insult.

What's it like A shard of glass. Piano's futuristic vision will tower over everything in sight, although Piano claims its white glass will mean the building will have 'a light presence on the skyline'. …

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