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David Walker's Barbican tower scheme rejected

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David Walker Architects' (DWA) controversial scheme for Milton Court - the only part of London's Barbican Centre not to be listed - has been sent back to the drawing board by City planners.

At a City of London planning committee on 15 May, the DWA proposal was 'referred back for consideration' after City panellists noted CABE's latest damning design review and listened to negative feedback from English Heritage and Barbican residents.

DWA had planned to build a 295-unit residential tower on the site now occupied by the run-down Milton Court building. The large number of residential units would fund the construction of a new educational and performance space for the Guildhall School of Music & Drama under the flats.

Despite the fact that the City of London is in partnership with developer Heron to build the scheme, City planners agreed with CABE's verdict, which concluded: 'We are not convinced that the current proposal is of sufficient quality.'

Selina Mason, CABE's outgoing director of architecture and design, added: 'Tall buildings should be of the highest standard given their prominence, but in this case we think that the height, scale and overcomplicated form means that the architecture is not of sufficient quality to make a positive contribution to the immediate and wider setting.

'This is a wonderful opportunity to build on the cultural strengths of the Barbican, but we feel these proposals fail on a number of levels and don't believe it should be granted planning permission,' added Mason.

A source close to DWA said that the firm would remain on the project. A Heron spokeswoman said: 'We will review what the situation is with the City [planning] team and we will get together to see how we will move forward.'

Designed in 1959, Milton Court was denied listed building status in 2001 and has been at risk of demolition ever since.

by Max Thompson

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