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Old July 24th, 2009, 10:40 PM   #101
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that they are for outline planning approval?
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Old July 29th, 2009, 04:43 PM   #102
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CABE Design Review
US Embassy
Wandsworth
The new United States Embassy building. Designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects.
3 July 2009
Planning reference: 2009/1506

Introduction
On the basis of our confidence that the team demonstrates a real commitment to high quality design and full engagement with stakeholders both at outline and reserved matters stage, we raise no objection to the principle of the outline form of the planning application proposed. We are convinced by the team’s commitment to engage widely outside the site boundary with the emerging local context, the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Opportunity Area Planning Framework (OAPF) and wider Ballymore site. We support the proposed typology of a building in a landscaped space and the visually permeable perimeter treatment.

However, we call into question several of the key urban design principles of the site layout: the relationship of the development to Nine Elms Lane, the nature and deliverability of the public realm elements that are proposed outside the site boundary and the form of the site footprint in relation to the new road layouts and adjacent sites. We do not, therefore, support the application as it currently stands and recommend that our concerns should be addressed prior to determination. We would welcome the opportunity to give further comments on any revised proposals that the applicant brings forward.

Relationship to Nine Elms Lane
Nine Elms Lane is currently a hostile pedestrian environment. The OAPF proposes that the pedestrian environment along its length is to be improved; development of this site provides an opportunity contribute to that. We feel that, in addition to the development of the OAPF’s strategic linear park, Nine Elms Lane and the river walk will remain primary pedestrian routes from public transport nodes at Vauxhall and Battersea. The potential footbridge proposed to the north, which will link the site to Pimlico, reinforces this view.

We are not convinced that the current layout makes sufficient contribution to civilising the existing street or generating intuitive pedestrian wayfinding from Nine Elms Lane to the embassy entrance. Because of the location of the entrance pavilions on the southern and eastern edges of the site, it effectively turns its back on the existing street. While we can accept that direct vehicular access from Nine Elms Lane might be problematic, the team should consider further how the new embassy will engage with the street and how it will announce the route to the embassy entrance in some way. A legible sequence of public open space, for example, a formal public space on axis with the footbridge where the ambassadorial access road meets Nine Elms Lane, could help to welcome and guide pedestrians from Nine Elms Lane to the ceremonial and consular entrance pavilions on the south-east side of the site.

Public realm
The site layout, its pedestrian connectivity and the setting of the embassy are predicated on the delivery of the OAPF’s new green route and a proposed “Embassy Plaza” within the wider Ballymore site. While we do not object to this approach in principle, because the green route and plaza are outside the site boundary, the guarantee of delivery, timing of delivery and quality control of these elements is a real concern.

Developers may be willing to incorporate, or even be compelled to include, delivery of the OAPF’s linear green route within their sites, but it may take some time, particularly in the current financial climate. Similarly, although we understand that an informal agreement with Ballymore will safeguard the land for the plaza at the consular entrance, the timing and quality of delivery is outside the embassy team’s control and, therefore, delivery of a space of an appropriate civic quality cannot be guaranteed. We also question whether the footprint of the space indicated is of an appropriate formality and scale. At least a significant proportion of Embassy Plaza should be included within the scope of the outline application.

New road layout
This will be a major civic building of international significance and its influence will be wider than Nine Elms alone. The architecture, site layout and setting of the new embassy should clearly reflect and celebrate this status. With this in mind, we are particularly concerned that the pragmatism of the new road layouts to the east and west of the site are dictating and compromising the form of its perimeter. The realignment of Ponton Road has generated an additional small triangular site to the north-west of the embassy; a mediocre design for this site in such close proximity, would compromise the setting of the embassy. The requirements of a civic building of this importance should dictate the highways layout and not the other way round, and we question whether the alignment shown in the application is the only possible option for the re-routing of Ponton Road. The triangular site should be either incorporated within the embassy compound or eliminated by realignment of the road.

Conclusion
We support the architectural ambition of the project and raise no objection to the principle of an outline application for this site. However, we have concerns about how the embassy site engages with Nine Elms Lane, its dependence on the delivery of public realm outside the site boundary and the compromised nature of the site footprint. The opportunity to influence these issues will be limited once an outline approval is in place and we cannot, therefore, support this planning application in its current form. We urge the planning authority to request that our concerns are addressed before the application is determined.
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Old July 31st, 2009, 03:57 PM   #103
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Boris v US in battle over huge American embassy
Mira Bar-Hillel, Property Correspondent
31.07.09

Boris Johnson has gone into battle with the American government over plans for a new embassy in London.

The Mayor says he is prepared to reject proposals for the £500million complex in Battersea if it breaches his planning vision for the capital and does not include a £2.5million contribution for Crossrail.



He has demanded a series of changes to the outline plans for the building - known as the Iceberg - with money for transport improvements at the top of his wish list.

City Hall is seeking contributions towards the £16billion Crossrail link from all major developers in central London as a condition of gaining the Mayor's approval.

The US wants to move from its site in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, because of security concerns. Though that building is heavily fortified, the US has been refused permission to close surrounding streets to stop the threat of a lorry bomb.

The new site would be protected by a 30-metre "blast zone" and a detachment of US marines. Security is so tight that only American-based architects are being allowed to design it.

However, Mr Johnson is effectively prepared to hold the American government to ransom to secure money to improve London's transport infrastructure and force through changes to the embassy's design.



He has concerns that the building, to be located between Chelsea and Vauxhall bridges, will "turn its back" on the Thames and be concealed behind a giant mound of earth. The Mayor wants the boundary wall to be "visually permeable" - allowing the 97 metre embassy to be seen from the road - not blocked by a four-metre concrete wall. Changes have also been demanded to ensure the building meets targets to reduce its carbon footprint. Unless they are made the proposals will breach the Mayor's planning guidelines - the London Plan - and face rejection.

A letter from planning officials to the embassy's developers says: "Further work is required before the proposed development can be considered acceptable in terms ... of the London Plan."

Because Crossrail will not pass near the embassy, the Mayor may decide instead to channel any American cash towards an extension of the Northern line to Battersea. He wants to add a branch from Kennington Tube station to Battersea Power Station via the embassy site at Nine Elms, where a station would be built.

Mr Johnson, who was born in New York, is also under pressure to force the US to pay £3million in congestion charge fines before agreeing to the embassy. The US has refused to pay the charge since it was launched in 2003, claiming its diplomats were exempt.

Jenny Jones, the Green party chairwoman of the London Assembly's planning committee, said: "I completely support the Mayor on this. If the embassy is going to move to Battersea, they have to follow the London Plan.

"I think they have to make a contribution towards public transport, particularly with the fact that they have a huge outstanding congestion charge bill."

The US hopes to move to the 2.15-hectare site by 2016. Work transforming the area, which is occupied by industrial buildings and a car showroom, is to begin in 2013.

Draft plans have been submitted to Wandsworth council, which has welcomed the embassy because of the prestige it will add to the borough. The building would be used by 800 staff and attract 1,100 visitors a day. The Americans hope to select an architect by early next year from the shortlist of four, including the 92-year-old designer of the Louvre glass pyramid, I M Pei.

Rob Tincknell, managing director of Treasury Holdings, which is managing the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station, said the embassy's move would help the area's regeneration. "The Nine Elms regeneration hinges on getting the right transport provision and we support the Mayor's efforts to ensure that the supporting transport infrastructure gets put in place," he said.

An American embassy spokesman declined to respond directly to Mr Johnson's warnings. He said: "As has been the case from the beginning of the new embassy project, we look forward to hearing comments and to addressing any concerns in a collaborative manner."

The man who will have to steer through the planning application and the negotiations associated with it will be Louis Susman, 71, whom Barack Obama appointed as American ambassador to Britain two months ago.

Reader views

If the US embassy still owes millions of pounds of unpaid congestion charge then they should not be allowed to do anything. Any agreement for the new building MUST incorporate a clause that the embassy pays all outstanding debts regarding the congestion charge AND pay all charges in the future.
- Andy, London

If the Northern line is extended to Battersea thanks to Boris I think it's only fair it be renamed the Johnson Line. This would be a great gift to London and a fantastic way of London remembering its best mayor when he has left office to become PM.
- Cheryl, Westminster, London

British diplomats have to pay US tolls, and the congestion charge is no more than a toll to use central London roads. I hope Boris digs his heels in over this one.
- Adam, London

Thank god we have Boris fighting for what's good for London. Ken would have just waved this through with no thought for anyone else like so many of his other hideous towers that have been built across London.
- Belinda, London

It's good to see how "el Amigo Boris" keeps the hands of the Americans off London business and UK laws. Do they think they can do anything they want to? Congratulations: you have the right man seated in the right chair.
- Juan Carlos Merino Lerena, Pozuelo de Alarcon, Madrid

Why is this blithering (choose an expletive) acting like such an upstart? When you think how much dosh the Yanks pour into keeping Britain going, its an act of ingratitude to refuse them the Embassy of their choice.
- Prototypical Englishman, Wormwood Scrubs

Also, not to be a pedant, but the mock-up photo of the embassy site is wrong. From the angle of the camera, the US Embassy would be behind / to the right of Elm Quay Court (apartment block in the foreground), not between Elm Quay Court and Market Towers. The site you've depicted in your photo is roughly where New Covent Garden Market is - and this is most definitely not being destroyed by the Embassy.
- Mark Lee, Vauxhall

Stick to your guns Boris and you can guarantee yourself a huge public vote come the next mayoral elections (that is, if you're not positioning yourself for no.10 by then)
- Marianne, SW France/London

This is really making mountains out of molehills.
Yes, asking the Embassy to have more active frontages instead of a 4m wall is important and a welcome move... but there's nothing in principle wrong with having an embassy there. I'm a local resident, and the area where they are proposing to build the embassy is most definitely not one of the picturesque areas of Battersea that most people have in mind - it is, to be quite frank, a barren landscape of desolate (and in some cases, abandoned) warehouses. I do wonder if some of the people complaining about it have ever actually visited the area - if they had, they would have realised that pretty much anything is better than the current land uses, and something as prestigious as the US embassy would be a huge boon for the area.
- Mark Lee, Vauxhall

I'm with the Americans on this. So long as their new embassy is in keeping with the area, which in this case is an industrial estate, then let them build it.
The CC is a tax in character and intent, and the US embassy is entitled not to pay it. Any blackmail over would be pathetic and petty.
- F Prefect, London

Do we really want a Green Zone in Battersea? And do we/they really need such an enormous presence anyway? Surely they don't need it just to issue visas. We should say no. This kind of fortress mentality is extremely damaging to society. The more that governments take a zero tolerance attitude to risk, the more all of us will feel as though we are living in a police state.
- Anne, London

The US Embassy should firsat pay the back-log of Parking Fines and other money owed to the GLC for refusing toi pay the congestion charge before the Planning application is even considered. Why should the Yanks be able to ignore the laws of England?
- A Dent, Acton England

Aren't these Americans supposed to be our partners? Dictating to us and kicking our citizens around in our own country is not the way to win friends.
".. they have a huge outstanding congestion charge bill." Pay up Uncle Sam.
- Frank, Home Counties, England.

Great to learn that Boris and team are in command.
- Frank, BONCATH, WALES

Notice how the Americans are now so popular their embassy has to be a fortress in the middle of nowhere.
Thanks for considering the enormous time and expense for those being forced to travel there in order to be interrogated for a visa just to get into the U.S.
- Kate, London

Good stuff Boris, great to see the yanks can't bully all of our politicians (ahem, Alan Johnson) into submission all the time.
- St, London
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Old July 31st, 2009, 05:01 PM   #104
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Is Mira writing for Chap magazine? The readers appear to think they have subscribed to it. I wish the ES was bi-monthly.

so what we find out in fact and what is seemingly glossed over is that actually all we needed were some roads closed to traffic in Westminster and we wouldnt need this rather risque development in Vauxhall. Nice
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Old July 31st, 2009, 05:05 PM   #105
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And Peter Bill's angle on the Embassy;

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standa...erg/article.do
A dollop of dollars should bring forth The Iceberg

To an event on Tuesday called “Tall Buildings in London, can they work?” held at the elegant offices of property agents Cushman & Wakefield in Portman Square. The subject matter may sound as relevant today as a colloquium on growing sunflowers in Reykjavik. But details of one interesting tall(ish) building did emerge. A building called, appropriately enough, The Iceberg.

That is the hostage-to-fortune name Americans have given their new embassy, to be built on the south bank of the Thames, just downriver of Vauxhall Bridge in Nine Elms. The US Bureau of Overseas Building Operations is in charge of the £500 million project due to finish in 2016. They apparently whistled up the name at a presentation to interested parties a couple of weeks ago. If you want to see what is planned for the 5-acre site, the website www.newusembassy-london.co.uk gives a misty outline of The Iceberg. The 500,000 square foot block looks quite a whopper. Think oil drum, hooped with three car tyres.

But big oil drum. Planning adviser DP9 says the central core will be 95 metres high — 311 feet in old money. Around this core the structure steps down to 75 metres in height to prevent it interfering with London's skyline.

At least, this is the idea. For what has been described is simply the envelope inside which four firms of largely unknown American architects are working up a design. One will be chosen in January. Then off we go.

Well, almost. There is still a lot of boring discussions going on with the Greater London Authority and Wandsworth council about access. But a large dollop of dollars to help pay for transport improvements will soon resolve that issue.

Over on the posh side of the Thames the sale of the property which is going to pay the £500 million bill for the Iceberg looks like it has an iceberg of its own looming into sight. The existing US embassy in Grosvenor Square is in grave danger of being listed.

It is understood that English Heritage has now privately told the Department for Culture Media and Sport that the façade at least of the Grosvenor Square embassy “meets the requirements” for listing.

In other words, it might not be possible to tear down the 50-year-old edifice designed in the imperial style by Finnish/American architect Eero Saarinen and stick up in the region of 150 opulent flats.

The Americans, who own a 999-year lease on the site, have unofficially chosen a development partner in the grand shape of Sir Stuart Lipton and his powerful sidekick Elliott Bernerd. It will need all their imagination to produce a scheme with an end value of anywhere near £500 million if far fewer flats can be squeezed in behind the existing façade. The verdict, which could cost the Americans perhaps between £100 million and £200 million, lies with Ben Bradshaw, the latest Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The Iceberg is seven years away: so, perhaps a decision worth leaving to the Tories?
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Old August 1st, 2009, 01:02 AM   #106
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kate, i think i love you..
Quote:
Notice how the Americans are now so popular their embassy has to be a fortress in the middle of nowhere.
Thanks for considering the enormous time and expense for those being forced to travel there in order to be interrogated for a visa just to get into the U.S.
- Kate, London
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Old August 1st, 2009, 08:07 PM   #107
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Yeh lets rename the Northern line the Johnson line..
In America Johnson is another metaphore for a prick!!!!

Interstingly though no complaits about the height from either BOJO or Mira Bitch Hillel.
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Old August 2nd, 2009, 10:56 AM   #108
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Maybe Americans are even higher up their hate lists than skyscrapers...
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Old August 3rd, 2009, 11:27 PM   #109
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Are there any renderings available? All this comment without knowing what the proposal looks like....
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Old August 3rd, 2009, 11:29 PM   #110
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Langur View Post
Are there any renderings available? All this comment without knowing what the proposal looks like....
I think theres a couple of sketches knocking about.
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Old August 3rd, 2009, 11:33 PM   #111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Langur View Post
Are there any renderings available? All this comment without knowing what the proposal looks like....

There wont be any renderings until an architect is chosen towards the end of the year/early next. What we have so far is an idea of massing and layout.
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Old August 3rd, 2009, 11:42 PM   #112
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Thanks for the info guys.
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Old August 4th, 2009, 02:02 AM   #113
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Quote:
I think theres a couple of sketches knocking about.
with which the US embassy is enforcing some pretty draconian interpretations of copyright to stop from appearing in the media
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Old August 4th, 2009, 10:05 AM   #114
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gothicform View Post
with which the US embassy is enforcing some pretty draconian interpretations of copyright to stop from appearing in the media
Yep its so draconian that theres a website for it ( although don't go on it the CIA will track your every move ).


http://www.newusembassy-london.co.uk/index.php
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Old August 4th, 2009, 10:36 AM   #115
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right down to the images on the website with "not for reproduction" splashed all over them.

http://www.newusembassy-london.co.uk/illustrative.php

like i said, they are doing their best to stop images appear in the media.
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Old August 4th, 2009, 10:57 AM   #116
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gothicform View Post
right down to the images on the website with "not for reproduction" splashed all over them.

http://www.newusembassy-london.co.uk/illustrative.php

like i said, they are doing their best to stop images appear in the media.
Yes but thats no different to any other commercially sensitive project.
Anyway all there is at the moment is indicative images that don't really show anything. The article in the ES pretty much sums up what might be planned as does the Mayors planning report so the US are not doing a particularly good job at supressing anything.

If they were that draconian how come the whole of the previous page is plastered with the images from the website. Also the fact that theres a lot of documents online with Wandsworth in pre application talks & an scoping opinion. More so than most commercial projects on here which in some instances we don't find out about until a plannign application has been lodged.
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Old August 4th, 2009, 11:15 AM   #117
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all images produced by and for the united states government are immediately released into the public domain, except these.

they *are* suppressing the images however and an image is always better than words.
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Old August 4th, 2009, 11:47 AM   #118
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Come on Goth leave the bad ol USA conspiracy theories to the skybar- They are hardly suppressing anything when they have a website up and running with nothing more than the usual drawn sketches of an indicative proposal. By that token CWG must be some totalitarian group as they never release any info prior to planning applications and when they do TH planning office always seems to have trouble posting design & access statements & townscape assessments because "the file is to big to upload online" when they don't have any trouble with other major applications.
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Old August 4th, 2009, 07:06 PM   #119
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http://www.bdonline.co.uk/story.asp?...000000019f4419

Cabe criticises plans for new US Embassy
4 August, 2009

By Anna Winston

Early plans for Britain’s new US Embassy have been attacked by Cabe, which has refused to support the outline planning application.

Following a design review, Cabe said that it had serious concerns over the proposed £500 million complex in Battersea, including the footprint of the site, its relationship to nearby Nine Elms Lane and “the nature and deliverability of the public realm elements”.

Outline plans for the high security development — dubbed the “iceberg” and worked up by Oregon-based practice Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects — were submitted to Wandsworth Council in May and include a main building of between 40,000 and 50,000sq m with three entrance pavilions plus various transport changes around the proposed location.

Last week, it emerged that London Mayor Boris Johnson had also expressed concern over the design, transport infrastructure and inclusive access provisions of the embassy proposal, which currently fails to comply with the capital’s overarching planning document, the London Plan.

“We are not convinced that the current layout makes sufficient contribution to civilising the existing street or generating intuitive pedestrian wayfinding,” said Cabe.

“Because of the location of the entrance pavilions… it effectively turns its back on the existing street.”

The design watchdog, which said it supported the “architectural ambition” of the project, added that it was concerned that the building’s setting was being dictated by road layouts.

“The requirements of a civic building of this importance should dictate the highways layouts and not the other way round,” it concluded.

Although Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects produced the outline planning application, an architect for the final scheme has yet to be appointed, with American practices Kieran Timberlake, Thom Mayne’s Morphosis Architects, Pei Cobb Freed and Richard Meier currently shortlisted in a major competition for the job.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 12:22 PM   #120
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Uncle Sam's new embassy upsets local businesses
Mira Bar-Hillel, Property Correspondent
10.08.09

Business chiefs today waded into a dispute over plans for the proposed new £500million US Embassy in south London.

Bosses at Royal Mail and the Covent Garden Market Authority have accused American diplomats of failing to reveal the true impact the "Iceberg" complex will have on the local area.

The two complain that the Americans are using "security" considerations as an excuse not to provide sufficient information on the Nine Elms Lane project and claim the embassy will seriously threaten their strategic operations.

The objections follow those already made by the Mayor's office, which found the proposals in breach of the London Plan.

The South London Mail Centre is located just south of Nine Elms Lane with permanent access via Ponton Road. It is a 24-hour operation "of strategic importance" to Royal Mail.

Having consulted experts, the Royal Mail has written to Wandsworth council saying that the Americans have not provided "sufficient information to allay its concerns".

The over-riding concern "is to safeguard the operational security and continuity" of the centre which is "absolutely critical to the delivery of mail services" for much of London.

"Any disruption to its unfettered operation would be unacceptable," Royal Mail said.

Its submission is very critical of the proposal's traffic assessment, which it said was overly optimistic, assumed that only five per cent of visitors would arrive by car and used "security" to avoid giving more details. Royal Mail also says the embassy may attract demonstrations which would disrupt local traffic and is demanding that the embassy provides a contingency access plan and cover its costs.

The outline application does not contain information about the embassy's intentions to compensate neighbours and Royal Mail is asking Wandsworth to ensure that this becomes a part of any decision.

The Covent Garden Market Authority requires deliveries of fresh and perishable produce at all hours. It said it "would be severely prejudiced" if access were denied due to security issues. "Discussions to date with the US Embassy and its advisers have not provided any reassurance on this issue", the CGMA told Wandsworth council.

It is also concerned that the Americans may, in future, seek to limit development on CGMA sites or seek to impose conditions on its operations.

English Heritage wants to limit the height of any embassy building to 70 metres, to avoid causing harm to views of the Palace of Westminster from Hungerford Bridge. The current proposal is up to 97 metres high.

An embassy spokesman said: "The US government continues to be committed to ongoing consultation. It is normal for a scheme of this significance to elicit comments and we continue to seek to find acceptable solutions."
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