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London Bridge Tower inquiry complicated by station plans

The surprise revival of a Wilkinson Eyre/TP Bennett revamp of London Bridge station is set to provide a further complication at the public inquiry into Renzo Piano's London Bridge Tower, scheduled to begin next week.

Network Rail's announcement that the project, previously shelved, is back on track, has thrown into confusion Piano's revised design for the base of the 306m skyscraper.

Problems with the tower at ground level had prevented CABE from giving the project its unreserved backing at the inquiry, and the recent changes were designed to address the commission's concerns.

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said the Wilkinson Eyre/TP Bennett scheme was being revisited after a private 'hint' from the deputy prime minister that the station must be redeveloped before Thameslink plans could be approved.

Network Rail is now in negotiations with the Strategic Rail Authority and Thameslink to attempt to raise the huge sums needed to fund the project, which still has valid planning permission.

The spokeswoman added that it was talking to London Bridge Tower developer, the Sellar Group, to help 'get this thing off the ground'.

The London Borough of Southwark has now stepped in to try to resolve the confusion, bringing together the various interested parties at a meeting last week. Also present was Kohn Pederson Fox, which has been in pre-planning discussions over a proposal for a tower for the neighbouring London Bridge House site.

Southwark's director of regeneration, Paul Evans, said the question was still to be resolved about how the two projects would work together.

But he added that he was confident these latest revelations would not affect London Bridge Tower's chances at the public inquiry, since it would work either with or without the station proposals.

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