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Prescott puts lock on Three Quays

The government has come under fire this week after triggering delays to a controversial new development by Reid Architecture on the bank of the River Thames.

City of London planning boss Peter Rees reacted with fury after the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister issued a directive demanding to see an environmental impact report less than 24 hours before the 'Three Quays' scheme was due to go before a planning committee.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott was bowing to pressure from Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), which is vociferously opposing the office development because of its proximity to the Tower of London. HRP believes the project will harm the setting of the Tower and should be thrown out by City planners.

In its letter to Rees opposing the scheme - which has won support from English Heritage - HRP says it requires a major redesign.

However, Rees rejected the call last week and recommended the low-rise designs should be given the green light.

He was furious to have received the ODPM directive at such a late stage. 'We had already assessed whether an environmental impact report was necessary and had decided that it was not, ' he told the AJ.

'It is there for all to see in the regulations.

To have this kind of order parachuted in at such a late stage helps no-one, especially not me and my department's efforts to provide an effective and efficient service to developers.

'We make many attempts to hit the government's targets for the processing of applications and this is what they go and do. At the end of the day, the Tower was built to protect the City but the City does not exist to protect the Tower, ' Rees added.

Reid Architecture was unavailable for comment, beyond that it believed the project would come before a planning committee at a later date.

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