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Towers at risk from Shanghai ban

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Thousands of skyscraper proposals, including KPF's plans for the world's tallest tower (pictured), are hanging in the balance following moves by officials in Shanghai to halt tall buildings in the city.

The 460 metre-tall World Financial Center, along with five other towers by the practice and a £100 million residential scheme by Benoy are among those at risk.

China's state newspaper, the China Daily, reports that the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress plans to modify the city's urban planning regulations in order to instigate a ban within the month There are currently nearly 3,000 tall buildings of more than 18 storeys in the city (according to the Shanghai Housing Land and Resources Bureau), with a further 2,000 estimated to be under construction and on the drawing board.

And city officials believe the massive development is causing the city to sink at a rate of up to 1.5cm per year - a phenomenon it puts down to the weight of the massive development the ground now has to support.

Guan Zhuangmin, chairman of the congress' Urban Construction and Environmental Protection Committee, is quoted as saying the 'excessive development' of tall buildings in downtown Shanghai 'worsens the city's image', going against its 'longterm goal of becoming a pleasant place to live and work'.

KPF principal Bill Louis said he feared the ban could apply to both the new quarter in Pudong and the historic quarter at Puxi. But he said he hoped that, because of the high profile of the 95-storey World Financial Center, it would be made an exception.

Louis added he had heard rumours that even emerging towers could be halted once they reach 18 storeys, but that it was unrealistic to think that buildings under construction could be stopped.

'China has a lot of growth potential, ' Louis said, 'but this ban would make investors think twice about putting their money in. It will damage terribly the city's credibilty.'

A £100 million retail scheme by Benoy, planned as part of a massive development featuring a number of tall buildings, is also at risk. But Simon Blore, operations director in the practice's burgeoning Hong Kong office, said he wasn't too disheartened. 'It looks like the city is having a review of how much they want to build, where and when. There's an element of taking stock.'

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