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Ken says new towers must have top-level public access

London mayor Ken Livingstone has declared that developers of tall buildings do not stand a chance of getting his approval unless they incorporate public areas on their top floors.

Livingstone told a select group of building owners and architects at a special event at Marlborough House to mark the beginning of London Open House last week that he wanted to see public areas at the tops of new skyscrapers, mirroring the Greater London Authority's headquarters. The new headquarters is being designed with a high level of accessibility in mind for its site on the south bank of the Thames by Foster and Partners.

'We want to give architects a chance to be experimental and bold and break away from the past, but part of the freedom they will get about taller buildings has got to be public access, ' he said.'We want the top floors open to the public. It's one of the ground rules that if you want the mayor's support, you've got to make it accessible.'

Livingstone, who favours the addition of tall buildings to London's skyline, added that he wanted the public to be able to see 'some of the most historic views on the planet' and discussions on the issue are being held with prospective developers.

The last months have seen a rash of tower proposals in the capital. In July Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners put forward a £200 million scheme for a 42-storey office tower above Paddington station (AJ 6.7.00); followed by Richard Rogers Partnership's plans for a £300 million, 45-storey scheme with two public atria as part of the wider Paddington basin renewal; and M3 Architects has attempted to dwarf them all with its world-record £450 million tower on a City site near Aldgate, backed by a US developer (AJ 17/24.8.00).

Livingstone's moves will capitalise on the trend for attractions which offer views of the city from on high, such as the 135m high BA London Eye and the Tate Modern's top level restaurant.

Deputy mayor Nicky Gavron told the AJ that Livingstone's new stipulation was 'the very least' expected of tower developers, citing mixed use as another requirement. She added that she was looking to take forward a tall buildings policy for the capital developed by the London Planning Advisory Committee, for which she worked before becoming deputy mayor to Livingstone.The principle of developing 'clusters' of tall buildings, or those above transport interchanges, look certain to be part of any new policy. Gavron said she has also been talking to Renzo Piano about his early sketches for the new 393m tower proposed with Broadway Malyan for London Bridge.

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