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Politicians Row Over Towers

Rather incredibly, skyscrapers are shaping up to become one of the looming battlegrounds of next years mayoral elections in London.

Lined up on one side is the Conservative Party backing the English Heritage and City of Westminster stance and on the other side is Ken Livingston who has the support of pretty much everyone else from private developers to CABE.

The thrust of the argument against tall buildings was explained by Tory culture minister, Ed Vaizey, who has branded skyscrapers "a danger" and claimed that the government is "in the thrall of the skyscraper". As the dictionary defines "thrall" as "held in bondage" perhaps this isn't the right word.

These comments come hot on the heels of Ken Livingstone who went as absurd in the other direction arguing for tall buildings suggesting critics enrol in a psychiatric programme and that opposition "it's a phobia like spiders" to oppose them which does rather belittle the threat of spiders, the topic of many more horror films than skyscrapers.

The heart of the argument is the fuss over the World Heritage Sites, something that has only recently come to the fore. This is believed by many to have happened partly thanks to English Heritage laundering out their campaign against tall buildings to UNESCO who have bought their claims despite scoping reports often having findings to the contrary.

One thing UNESCO and English Heritage are now arguing for is a buffer zone around the Tower of London which is apparently threatened by the shortest of the proposed skyscrapers furthest away, 20 Fenchurch Street, but not by one of the tallest that is closest to it, the Leadenhall Building. London Bridge Tower was also criticised again despite it being barely visible in the Tower of London.

The buffer zone they have proposed has a map with the heights of what should be allowed for areas of London taking into account ground level. Amusingly, in some areas they have zoned so strictly a bungalow would be breaking the rules.

There are also fears about the effect of skyscrapers on the Westminster World Heritage site with Vaziey directing his fire at a number of projects including those as far away as the Vauxhall Tower which got through an entire public inquiry without the question of UNESCO being raised.

What the row really means though is politicians throwing their toys at each other with the Tories trying to stick it into Ken Livingstone as the election for next year approaches in London, and in turn the Mayor rigorously defending his position. Vaizey illustrated this perfectly by coincidentally attacking every single project Ken Livingstone had recently defended. That didn't stop Vaizey praising towers built under the Tories just to show he's not anti-skyscraper at all.

Even if the Tories do win the Mayoral elections next year it's unlikely they'll be able to do a thing as many of the projects will be well under way by then. Unless they plan on stopping under construction buildings causing the loss of billions, it'll be business as usual for those sticking towers up in London.

Article Related buildings:

20 Fenchurch Street

20 Fenchurch Street
The Leadenhall Building

The Leadenhall Building
St Georges Wharf Tower

St Georges Wharf Tower
London Skyscrapers
London Skyscrapers