Planning specialists have warned that London mayor Ken Livingstone risks slowing up the planning process after he overturned a planning permission on grounds of architectural design for the first time ever this week.
On Monday Livingstone ordered the London Borough of Lambeth to reverse its decision to grant consent for Gensler's 50,000m 2scheme for the former Greater London Council island block on the south side of Westminster Bridge. He said the scheme would 'result in an unacceptable appearance because of the standard of architectural design' and that it would 'adversely affect the setting of adjoining listed buildings of special architectural or historic interest'.
The stress on architectural quality is seen as a signal that Livingstone is preparing to take an interventionist approach to his planning role.
'It will be interesting to see how far he wants to go down this path of intervening in individual proposals, ' said Royal Town Planning Institute president Nick Davies. 'He risks slowing down development, not encouraging it as he has in his statements about tall buildings.'
The Gensler scheme was opposed by the Twentieth Century Society and CABE also expressed reservations about the design during planning.
Developer Frogmore Developments is understood to be in talks with Lambeth and Gensler about mollifying the mayor with an altered design.
Livingstone can order refusal on developments above a certain scale and has so far only barred one other - a housing scheme in Limehouse which did not make sufficient provision for social housing.