John Prescott has backed Ian Ritchie's controversial development at the Potter's Field site next to Tower Bridge, ignoring the recommendations of English Heritage (EH).
As predicted by the AJ (AJ 22.09.05), the secretary of state was 'minded to approve' the Lambeth College and coach park proposal, despite EH's concerns over the potential effect on historic views, it emerged yesterday.
In his report, planning inspector Stuart Reid has been highly critical of EH's approach to Ritchie's plans for a cluster of 'mini towers' on the south bank of the Thames.
Reid panned the heritage authority's officers for a lack of transparency and for failing to take on board all 'relevant considerations' when advising the London Advisory Committee - the body of experts that considers key London schemes on behalf of EH.
However, the inspector did praise CABE's support for the scheme - hailing it as a 'full, fair and thorough examination'.
In response to Prescott's decision, CABE again emphasised its support for Ritchie's designs.
The design watchdog also issued a warning that Ritchie should not be sidelined over the design proposals, as was the case with his equally contentious retail plans for White City (AJ 06.10.05).
A CABE spokesperson said: 'We believe this scheme succeeds on both counts: we think that the proposed massing and height strategy for the towers works successfully as a mediating presence between City Hall and Tower Bridge, as well as making sense in the wider context of the differing grains of Shad Thames and the More London Bridge development.'
EH was unavailable for comment. by Rob Sharp