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Livingstone hits out at Westminster intransigence. . .

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Westminster City Council is poised to lock horns yet again with London mayor Ken Livingstone after stubbornly resisting calls to scrap a clause in its revised unitary development plan which blocks new tall buildings.

Instead, the council is to press ahead with a policy effectively banning tall buildings unless 'they are of exceptional quality and design'.

But Livingstone is determined to bring defiant Westminster into line with his spatial development strategy, which advocates tall buildings in developing areas such as Paddington (AJ 01.3.01).

Livingstone's policy advisor, Eleanor Young, said: 'The mayor is highly unlikely to revise his objections to Westminster.'

Westminster City Council is frustrated by Livingstone's stance but is banking on 'common sense' winning the day. 'As yet, we have been given no feedback by Ken Livingstone on our policy. But common sense will prevail and Ken Livingstone will realise that tall buildings are suitable in certain locations, but not necessarily in the heart of Westminster. After all, 80 per cent of the city is a conservation area, ' said Westminster City Council planning and licensing committee chairman Angela Hooper.

'We will look at individual applications, but we don't in general consider the heritage we have to protect should be overshadowed by any tall buildings. A further consultation of the UDP will take place in the autumn before a final document is agreed next year.'

Meanwhile, a dramatic vision for Victoria, London's busiest rail, tube, bus and coach hub, has been unveiled by Westminster City Council in draft planning guidance. Key features include:

Comprehensive redevelopment of the Victoria railway terminus;

Enhanced integration of all transport systems;

Guidelines for ensuring new structures are sensitive to neighbouring conservation areas including Belgravia, Pimlico and Grosvenor Gardens; and dramatic reductions in public overcrowding, especially around the Victoria Street entrance to the tube and railway station.

The proposals also include plans for new offices, retail outlets and housing. A timetable for a competition has yet to be announced.

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