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Here is a planning policy puzzle. Perhaps an astute reader can explain the contradiction between two concurrent statements.

In ajplus 10.05.07 you report that Birmingham City Council is backing a proposal by the West Midlands Fire Service that the conversion of its Grade II-listed Central Fire Station, which sits within the Steelhouse Conservation Area, should include a new 40-storey tower. At exactly the same time, the city's director of planning and regeneration publishes a draft management plan for this area, saying: 'The council will ensure that all alterations and additions are sympathetic to the existing building in scale, proportion, materials and detailing, ' and 'new buildings must not appear to be significantly higher or lower than their neighbours'.

Is a 40-storey building not significantly higher than a three-storey building? Or is it the truth that, when faced with erectile development machismo, conservation policy is just hopelessly girly?

Joe Holyoak, by email

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