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Livingstone stands tall in London

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London mayor Ken Livingstone has retained his defiant stance on tall buildings in his vision for the capital, the London Plan, which was officially launched this week.

Concerns by English Heritage that tall buildings could prove detrimental to London's skyline have done nothing to curb his enthusiasm.

At the launch on Tuesday, which followed 19 months of public consultation on the proposals, Livingstone confirmed that 'tall buildings will go ahead' at the substantial rate of '15 buildings over the next 15 years'.

However, any tall buildings will have to be assessed for impact on their surroundings and should aim to 'create attractive landmarks enhancing London's character', the plan says.

The tall buildings initiative forms part of Livingstone's wider framework for high-density city living. The plan sets an increased target of 30,000 new homes to be built every year within Greater London, to accommodate its growing population, which is estimated to rise to eight million by 2016. Development will be concentrated on brownfield land. The final plan also retains a commitment to sustainable construction, highly developed transport links and improved flood defences.

Livingstone said the plan presented 'huge opportunities to accommodate growth'. And Nicky Gavron, the mayor's former deputy and now his adviser on strategic planning, added that it would 'finally correct the imbalance between east and west'.

But Simon Hughes MP, the Liberal Democrat candidate for London mayor, hit out at the plan's aspirational target of 50 per cent affordable housing city-wide. 'This isn't good enough, ' he said.

'Rather than aspiring, the mayor should be demanding that the 50 per cent target is met. He should show firm leadership on one of the most crucial issues facing London in the next few years.'

However, Livingstone has pledged to intervene where local boroughs refuse to cooperate with affordable housing targets.

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