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London plan 'will damage design'

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Business leaders have warned that mayor Ken Livingstone's draft London Plan will result in an 'escalation in planners meddling in building design'. The CBI and business association London First said they believed the plan will allow GLA and local authority planners too much power to 'dictate architecture'.

Both organisations, giving evidence to the current Examination in Public of the plan, said they were concerned it would deter business from investing in new build in the city, settling instead for refurbishment.

London First director Judith Solloman told the AJ that there is far too much scope for 'ambiguity' in the plan. She attacked the failure of its authors to define terms such as 'mixed-use' and 'ecological' - a problem that will allow local authority planning officers the 'flexibility' to reject any scheme citing as justification the London Plan, she said.

The public inquiry into the draft London Plan ends on 17 April. All interest groups and private citizens have been encouraged to comment on the plan, which outlines the economic, social and architectural development of the city during the next 10 years. Recommendations will be presented to the mayor in July, and will be fed into the final plan to be published at the end of the year.

The CBI echoed London First's concerns, warning that unless the GLA cuts the burden on business and 'cleared up the grey areas' London's business may become 'disillusioned with investing'.

But a GLA spokesman dismissed the criticism, insisting the development vision has the 'broadbased support' of the capital's business interests.

He said many of London First's concerns will be covered in as yet 'unspecified planning guidance'.

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