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Architects join opposition to mayor's planning powers

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Top architectural practices have joined forces with the Corporation of London and builders to fight proposals to give huge planning powers to the capital's new mayor. Representatives from practices including Foster and Partners, Gensler and hok International met this week to draw up a response to the government's plans for the mayor.

The white paper, 'A Mayor and Assembly for London', proposed that the mayor create a special strategy for London, with boroughs handling small and local planning matters.

The vagueness of the proposals causes great concern, said Stuart Fraser, chair of the planning and transportation committee of the corporation, as does the amount of mayoral inteference. The mayor would have to be consulted over proposals for buildings more than 50m tall - only half the height of the Stock Exchange tower and a third the height of the International Financial Centre, Fraser said. This is in contrast to the London Planning Advisory Committee's recent proposal to set the limit at 100m.'

'White paper proposals also suggest the mayor looks at developments of over 20,000m2,' he said. 'The two together would have affected a quarter of our planning applications last year. We fear the plans will slow the process with bureaucracy.

John Drew of Foster and Partners said that the government plans could prevent London being a world financial centre. 'The 20,000m2 threshold at which the mayor will be called into action represents 79 per cent of approvals,' he said. 'This is another layer of planning and may lead to firms going to Chicago or Frankfurt instead of London.'

Gregory Craig, managing director of epr Architects, said: 'The mayor will be a political appointment and I fear we may be going back to the days of the glc and borough politics.'

The corporation will draw up a consultation paper on the Government's white paper by 6 October.

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