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Piers Gough and English Heritage cross swords

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Piers Gough and English Heritage [EH] chief executive, Simon Thurley, have clashed after Gough claimed that EH was ‘failing’ and had ‘lost the ability to judge the settings of listed buildings.’

Speaking at the City of London Planning Committee dinner last Wednesday (7 November), Gough cited EH’s ‘consistent failure to persuade inspectors of the negative impact of towers in London’.

Gough, who was an EH commissioner for seven years, said: ‘EH has lost a number of recent London appeals. On Heron Tower [a Kohn Pedersen Fox scheme in the City] the inspector praised the presentation by EH but didn’t agree with it.

‘And the most recent inquiry on [Rafael Viñoly’s] Walkie-Talkie tower in the City is pretty contemptuous. The inspector questioned EH’s ability to judge the setting of listed buildings, which is what they are all about.’

‘EH’, Gough continued, ‘is not a good judge of architecture – they do not understand Modern architecture because they recruit conservationists.’

But Thurley hit back and claimed that Gough’s rant was down to EH’s failure to back the Cardinal Wharf scheme at Ipswich Docks, by Gough’s practice CZWG.

Thurley said: ‘Piers is understandably not wild about that, especially as a former commissioner. My suspicions are that his remarks come out of frustration’.

He also dismissed Gough’s claim that EH was reeling from its failure to convince inspectors of its case on three consecutive London tower schemes – the Heron, Renzo Piano’s Shard and the Walkie Talkie.

He said: ‘The press doesn’t report on our wins outside of London. We feel pretty confident and the government is pleased with us.’

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