Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Prescott Overrules Mayor over Plan for Heron Tower

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Prescott Overrules Mayor over Plan for Heron Tower

Article excerpt


THE battle for London's skyline has taken a new turn after Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott intervened to take a crucial decision away from Mayor Ken Livingstone and the City Corporation.

Mr Prescott, in his role as Environment Secretary, has announced that plans for the 43-storey Heron Tower in Bishopsgate, which would damage views of St Paul's Cathedral, will be decided by a government inspector following a full public inquiry - highlighting again Mr Livingstone's inability to grant planning permission or guarantee success for schemes he favours.

The minister overruled the Mayor, who strongly supports skyscrapers across London. Mr Livingstone had written to Mr Prescott urging him not to call for an inquiry but to allow the City's approval of the scheme so as not to undermine its financial future.

Mr Prescott has chosen to accept the warnings of English Heritage and the Dean of the Cathedral, Dr John Moses, who told him the building would seriously harm views of St Paul's from Waterloo Bridge and Somerset House.

His decision was made because "the proposals may conflict with national policies on important matters; could have significant effects beyond their immediate locality; give rise to substantial regional controversy and raise significant architectural and urban design issues".

The new tower, proposed by the Heron property company and designed by American-based architects KPF, would be 183 metres high - making it the tallest building in the City, and almost double the 100-metre limit. In addition to damaging views of the cathedral, Heron Tower would also prevent a clear view of the Tower of London.

English Heritage advised the City Corporation to reject the proposal and was furious when its warnings were rejected. The City also ignored objections from the cathedral, the Ancient Monuments Society and the Georgian Group.

Another objector, Westminster council, recently crossed swords with Mr Livingstone over his support for two towers in Paddington. …

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