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Developers urged to make progress on Marsham Street

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The government intends to exert pressure on chosen developers to get them to implement the classically inspired competition-winning masterplan by Tagliaventi Associates for Marsham Street Towers, which it has confirmed will come down. Developers will be offering the prime site for purchase later this year by the government's Property Advisers to the Civil Estate (pace), and the controversial masterplan will be pushed forward for their consideration, according to a Cabinet Office source.

A demolition contract is out to tender for the widely despised towers, once the home of the then separate departments of environment and transport, and still occupied by some environment staff. It is expected that the contract will be let on 1 July, but an accommodation review being undertaken by the government means the towers may be used as a temporary home for other civil servants - perhaps mod staff while their home is redeveloped - to obviate the need for leasing new property.

Tagliaventi's scheme attracted a great deal of controversy when it won a competition staged by former environment secretary John Gummer in October 1996. However, since Labour came into power the contest has been forgotten and it seems likely that the competition element will depend on the whims of the winning developer.

Westminster City Council, which said this week it wanted to see 'high- quality architecture' on the site, granted outline planning permission on 2 April last year for a Terry Farrell mixed-use scheme. It wants to see a permeable scheme with pedestrian routes and open spaces. Height restrictions range from 31m above pavement level on the site's southern end to 23m on its northern end.

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