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Mayor backs 'damaging' tower

A row between London's mayor Ken Livingstone and one of Labour's leading local authorities has broken out over the future of a tower proposal by Michael Aukett Architects in west London.

The London Borough of Hounslow - which threw out the 12-storey proposal in Chiswick last May - is going head-to-head with the mayor's representatives, who are supporting the project, at a planning appeal that started last Tuesday.

The row, which has been slammed by the capital's Conservatives as a waste of money, is also expected to influence the future of the London Plan, as planners dismissed the Chiswick West proposals despite them fulfilling many of the plan's objectives.

If the project does get the go-ahead, it would see the construction of a mixed-use development, including both low-rise and highrise elements, on a site adjacent to nearby Gunnersbury Underground Station.

But Hounslow's planning committee rejected these proposals, describing them as 'one of the worst planning applications we have ever seen'. Members attacked the plans as out of scale, unattractive and unnecessarily damaging to a local conservation area. Planning chief Mike Jordon described the decision as an 'open and shut case', insisting that there was 'no reason at all' for it to win the appeal.

'It struck us as odd that the mayor should be giving this scheme his backing, although it does fit in to the London Plan in some ways, ' he told the AJ. 'What they need to understand is that the London Plan is far from carte blanche.' However, Michael Aukett said: 'We are pleased to have won the mayor's support. This is a strange situation as there seemed no reason for us to have failed to win planning. The simple fact is that Hounslow treated us very poorly - it is a truly awful local authority.' The most damning criticism of the current stand-off has come from the Tories' planning spokesman at the Greater London Authority, Tony Arbour.

'This is an extraordinary waste of money, ' he said. 'It is two Labour authorities going head-to-head over a scheme just because they can't agree about the importance of the London Plan.'

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