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Viñoly's City of London 'Walkie Talkie' called in

Rafael Viñoly's 'Walkie Talkie' skyscraper in Fenchurch Street, central London, has been called in by Ruth Kelly.

The Communities Minister, who recently put the kibosh on Ian Simpson's waterfront skyscraper in Liverpool (AJ 23.77.06), has demanded a public inquiry into the 160m scheme, which won the green light from planners back in September.

The decision has shocked developer Land Securities, which thought it had satisfied the majority of the project's critics following a major redesign of the curved building.

Under pressure from groups such as English Heritage, Viñoly chopped nine storeys from the top of his original design for the tower - a move which also appeased the City of London's planners.

However, Kelly now wants to re-examine the scheme's 'appropriateness' with particular regard to the possible impact of the proposals 'on the skyline, including views of St Paul's Cathedral.'

The minister also wanted to re-evaluate the 'impact of the proposals on the Tower of London World Heritage site-and the extent to which the proposals comply with the relevant policies in the London plan.'

A spokesman for Land Securities said: 'We are genuinely baffled by this.

'However, assuming we get an early inquiry date - and a decision by next autumn - it shouldn't affect our timetable.'

by Richard Waite

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