The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment is to take the extraordinary step of squaring up to English Heritage in the forthcoming public inquiry about the 222m Heron Tower.
The commission has never before fought a case at inquiry, but it now believes that the issue is of such importance to good design, skyscrapers and the future of the City of London that it must now act. Last Wednesday, the commission's board approved the decision and the resources needed, but it has yet to select the relevant personnel.
But the move may mean that a further wedge is driven between the two bodies, following EH's moves directly after a joint position was struck on skyscrapers. EH instantly undermined the harmony by issuing results from a MORI poll as 'hard evidence' that public feeling was against tall buildings (AJ 21.6.01), accompanied by alarmist images of how the capital's skyline might look.
The RIBA, meanwhile, is undecided over whether it should make representations at the inquiry on October 23, despite its importance.
President Paul Hyett told the AJ that the institute would not speak up against a RIBA member, but conceded that it may present a case in favour of the £300 million KPF-designed building. 'I'm not happy for the institute to speak against a member.
We might speak for a building, but not against.'