It was a welcome relief to hear that the Heron Tower has won its planning appeal. Not since the Mansion House Square/No 1 Poultry saga has there been such time and money spent on trying to prevent what is manifestly a fine piece of design for a contemporary workplace building.
When English Heritage supported the Swiss Re tower by Foster and Partners, with all the implications that has for backdrop views related to the Tower of London and skyline impact generally, many of us thought the bad old days of knee-jerk opposition to tall buildings might be gone forever. Alas, it looks as though that view was mistaken.
Will EH continue to oppose towers as a matter of course simply because they have 'impact' (always assumed to be negative), either on panoramas or backdrop views?
Let's hope not, or we will have a run of planning appeals essentially repeating the issues raised at the lawyer-heavy Heron inquiry. Of course, one cannot make appeal decisions matters of precedent, since all applications must be treated on their merits.
On the other hand, a careful reading of the inspector's report would, I suggest, lead to the conclusion that well-designed contemporary tower applications are going to get a fair run, provided the local planning authority and the London mayor, among others, are supportive. This is not an unreasonable state of affairs.
Ken Stanfield, Bromley