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Money talks

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Expert witnesses at the inquiry were, on the whole, excellent; however, with Will Alsop there was a surreal air about proceedings. In the first place, having denied that he was being paid to give evidence (on behalf of the Greater London Authority), it then emerged that indeed he was (£7,000).

He also declared he knew nothing about PPG15, which is the national policy guidance relating to building in historic areas. Third, he said he felt quite comfortable about new towers appearing behind the dome of St Paul's, which cheered up English Heritage no end, since this is what they claim will happen if Heron gets permission. Oh well. The GLA's other expert, Lord Rogers, was a good and robust witness. Much has been made of the fact that his firm is designing tall buildings, but all that means is that you were hearing a witness with the courage of his convictions.

City planner Peter Rees got a big roughingup but survived; whether the same can be said for Philip Davies from EH remains to be seen. It seems an awfully expensive way to run a railroad. Meanwhile, look out for another polite but determined appeal battle between CABE and English Heritage, following the commission's appearances at Heron, the first time CABE has been represented at an inquiry. Next time it is over the Coppergate shopping centre scheme in York. If EH cannot act to ensure the best quality of development in York, of all places (it is supporting the application), it is hard to see what it is for.

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