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Palaces quango promises fight against tall buildings

Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), the quango that runs many major landmarks in London, has pledged to join English Heritage in its fight against skyscrapers.

The organisation - which manages the Tower of London and Kensington Palace among others - has adopted a new policy to oppose all tall buildings that 'endanger' the strategic views of its monuments. The stance amounts to a blanket opposition to the many tower proposals under consideration in the capital, including Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners' 217m St Botolph's House unveiled last week (see picture, above).

The new policy coincides with the publication of the draft London Plan, in which mayor Ken Livingstone reiterates his support for building tall.

According to HRP, it and the mayor's positions are irreconcilable.HRP also claims the large number of tall buildings being backed by both the mayor and by CABE has forced it to assert its hostility.

A member of the conservation department at HRP, Natasha Woollard, said: 'Livingstone has his agenda and we have ours. We are determined to oppose his policy because we are worried about the impact these buildings will have on our conservation areas.' She added that HRP now opposes many of the planned buildings in London, in particular Renzo Piano's 60-storey London Bridge Tower. The secretary of state is currently deciding whether to call in the 'shard of glass' for public inquiry.Woollard said: 'This will impact upon the view corridors of the Tower of London and we want to stop it going up.'

She also warned: 'There is no geographic limit on where we will object to new buildings. For example, even though the Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital development in Waterloo is a long way from the Tower, we oppose it because it will spoil the view.' HRP has additional influence as a consultant in the planning process because of its responsibility for the Tower of London, a designated World Heritage Site.

The Corporation of London, the planning authority most affected by the new policy, said:

'We have had to work with [HRP] on proposed projects such as Grimshaw's £70 million St Botolph's House development because of the UNESCO status of the Tower of London'.

Woollard denied rumours that HRP had entered into a formal collaboration with English Heritage, but admitted they were looking to work together with increasing regularity.

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