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RIBA's wind turbine hopes blown out by council planners

The RIBA's plans to provide a model for sustainable architecture have been foiled by Westminster City Council, which is set to refuse planning permission for two wind turbines on the roof of its headquarters building in Portland Place.

Planning officers are recommending that the Allies and Morrison scheme to add the 20m turbines to the top of the Grade II*-listed building should not go ahead.Officer Robert Ayton said the objections were 'on the basis of visual impact'.

The turbines were an initiative of former RIBA president Marco Goldschmied as part of his campaign to introduce a green strategy for the RIBA building.Goldschmied said the decision was 'predictable' and reflected issues of policy towards sustainability at a national level.

The RIBA would have been the right place to pioneer the use of alternative power in older buildings, he said, because of its listed status, its location in the centre of London and its role as headquarters to one of the leading professional bodies promoting sustainability. Goldschmied said he would be urging the RIBA to appeal to London mayor Ken Livingstone to intervene.

Project architect Robert Maxwell described the decision as 'unfortunate'. He said the installation of the turbines would have been a high-profile project to help stimulate debate.

The project was opposed by English Heritage.

Assistant regional director for London Paul Velluet said: 'We felt that standard industrial wind turbines would adversely affect the special interest of the Grade-II* listed building and the character and appearance of the surrounding conservation area.' He added: 'It would have done little to save the energy costs of the building.'

The wind turbines were part of a project to halve the RIBA's energy consumption and improve its green credentials. The building's electric boilers have been replaced with gas ones which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26 per cent.

An official decision is expected from Westminster in January.

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