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Prescott ignored advisers to approve Broadway Malyan skyscraper

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott ignored his own advisers when he controversially approved Broadway Malyan's Vauxhall Tower, it has emerged.

According to documents revealed through a Freedom of Information bid, Prescott decided to disregard the recommendations of senior officials within his department to give the 180m-tall tower the thumbs up back in July 2005 (Last hurdle leaped for Vauxhall tower).

Among the concerns raised by the officers were the potential harm the cylindrical, 50-storey skyscraper would cause to the Westminster Abbey World Heritage Site and 'a number of conservation areas'.

The report, dated 8 December 2004, also maintained that 'the harm caused [by the development would] outweigh the benefits' and highlighted the inadequate levels of affordable housing.

However, Prescott's decision to approve the project for developer St George not only went against his officers' opinions but also flew in the face of both Lambeth Council - which had turned the scheme down because it was not of the 'highest quality design' - and the planning inspector.

The revelations have been welcomed by former Conservative Home Secretary Kenneth Baker, who instigated the Freedom of Information attempt.

The move could also have massive ramifications for future post-public-inquiry decisions and effectively force ministers to justify the basis for their verdicts.

by Richard Waite

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