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Carpet bagger

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One of the more surreal moments of the Heron Tower inquiry came during the cross-examination of the AJ's Paul Finch, giving evidence on behalf of CABE, which supports the tower. Quizzed over the design review committee meeting that first considered the proposal, he was asked what could have been in the mind of Dr Gordon Higgott, the English Heritage officer who attended the meeting. Finch replied that he could not speculate on what had been in Dr Higgott's mind; the good doctor had been crawling about on the carpet with a map and a ruler or tape measure trying to explain his reasons for opposing the proposal. Counsel tried again.

What conclusions could he have drawn from CABE's meeting? 'It is not reasonable to expect CABE to comment on the state of Dr Higgott's mind, ' Finch riposted. He confirmed that at no stage had CABE's attention been drawn to the steps of Somerset House terrace view, which emerged last year after English Heritage and Westminster council combined to chop down trees on the Victoria Embankment, thereby creating new views of St Paul's Cathedral's dome. Later, the CABE man also drew attention to a curiosity about the English Heritage 's attitude to the proposed tower. Much of its cross-examination of various witnesses concerned the 'destruction' of the setting of the cathedral by the KPF tower, which in fact sits alongside it in the closest view from the said terrace. However, when seen in various views from Tate Modern ('glorious vistas' said Finch), one of the Barbican towers appears to be growing out of the dome itself. Apparently this doesn't worry English Heritage; it recently listed the Barbican estate in its entirety, thereby ensuring the interrupted view of the dome for decades to come.

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