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EH in last-minute dash to reject Vinoly tower

English Heritage yesterday faced a last-minute race to get its recommendation to refuse permission for Raphael Vinoly's 'walkie-talkie' tower to the City of London's planning committee ahead of its meeting this afternoon.

The conservation quango left it to the very last minute to provide planners with an interim document that calls for the skyscraper to be thrown out - it was faxed over less than 24 hours before today's meeting.

In a move described by one observer as 'a very strange way to do business', EH officials will then formally recommend rejection of the project two days after the planning committee has made its decision.

However, it's unlikely to make much difference, as the city planning officer Peter Rees is advocating that the tower wins the green light.

Those who have managed to supply formal objections in time for today's meeting include Historic Royal Parks and the City Heritage Trust.

EH has strenuously defended its behaviour, arguing that organisational schedules did not allow it to get a formal recommendation in on time. 'We have processed this as fast as we can,' a spokeswoman said. 'We could not formally object before the meeting of our commissioners on Wednesday.

'The fact is that City planners will be in no doubt that we are strenuously calling for it to be refused.

'Even if it wins planning there will be more hoops for the scheme to go through, including going to the mayor, so our formal advice will still be used,' she added.

by Ed Dorrell

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