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Rogers lift for Heron Tower

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The Heron Tower inquiry has reached its midpoint, with Lord Rogers praising the 'masterful' 222m tower. Zoë Blackler looks at the story so far

Giving evidence to the inquiry on Tuesday, Lord Rogers confirmed that his practice is working on three major tall building projects in the City of London and at Canary Wharf. Speaking for the GLA, he described the relationship between Heron Tower and the Dome of St Paul's as 'exceptionally successful' even from the controversial view from the terrace of Somerset House, where the tower appears immediately next to the Dome.

Cross-examined by Richard Phillips QC for English Heritage, Lord Rogers said: 'If we used your method of measuring we would never have moved from caves. You use a method of legal measurement - I use my eyes.' Asked whether it would be better to locate offices in deprived areas to aid the regeneration urged in Lord Rogers' Urban Task Force Report and Urban White Paper, Lord Rogers said the City was the 'economic engine of Britain' and that taking the argument to an extreme would mean locating an office development in a Welsh valley.

Rogers praised the Heron Tower and said the KPF scheme was 'quite masterful'. He said not building such schemes would create a 'museum city' and would be 'shameful'.

Tall is beautiful

Lord Rogers and Will Alsop were presenting evidence on behalf of the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, a fierce proponent of the tower. The case against the tower will be presented from today. The scheme was called in by the secretary of state last January in response to a challenge from EH, which claims Heron Tower, on Bishopsgate in the City of London, will impact on the setting of St Paul's as viewed from the northern end of Waterloo Bridge and from Somerset House Terrace.

Heron Properties opened its arguments with evidence from KPF's Lee Polisano. The tower's designer said the scheme would not harm St Paul's Cathedral but would enhance the local context and the city's skyline. Polisano said the building was a 'considered contemporary design' that would provide a 'highquality addition to the architectural heritage of the City of London'.

On behalf of Heron, Robert Tavernor, professor of architecture at Bath University, testified to the quality of the architecture. Townscape planner Anthony Blee also argued that the tower would have a positive impact on the local environment, and planning consultant Alan Simmonds argued that the proposal fits within the relevant planning guidelines.

Submissions from the Corporation of London followed with its key witness, head of planning Peter Rees. Speaking after the inquiry, Rees said: 'If the City of London is going to continue being successful it has got to grow. If it can't go out, it's got to go up.'

The City's economic case was supported by Rosemary Radcliffe, chief economic advisor for PricewaterhouseCoopers, who claimed the Square Mile would need in excess of 1 million m 2ofnew office space by 2010.

The inquiry continues.

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