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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Great bit of ill researched & hackeyed piece on skyscrapers- Looks like he has just copied & pasted a similar rant from Simon Jenkins....

Prescott's High-Rise Passion to Scar London After Scandal Fades

(The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Bloomberg.)

By Colin Amery

May 19 (Bloomberg) -- When politicians fall from grace they are often immediately forgotten. They leave no legacy; a whiff of scandal is all that lingers.

U.K. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott miraculously retains his title, residences and handsome income, though he now has no ministerial department and no real duties. His legacy will continue to be built long after his extramarital dalliance with a secretary is forgotten.

While he was the planning supremo for the U.K., the man whose last word could kill or give birth to new developments, he showed a marked enthusiasm for overruling his planning inspectors to encourage the rise of high buildings.

When members of parliament assemble on the riverside terrace of the Palace of Westminster in the summer they are probably going to be surprised as they look upstream at Europe's tallest residential tower, the Vauxhall Tower, designed by architects Broadway Malyan Ltd. and nearly 600 feet (180 meters) high.

It is a circular glass building of no great distinction. It was much fought by local amenity groups and refused planning permission -- until Prescott decided that towers gratified his edifice complex. Now it is being built.

The Vauxhall Tower won't be alone for long. London is experiencing a rash of very tall buildings under the influence of Prescott and the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, who has taken the high buildings policy under his personal wing.

Beautiful Towers?

Prescott and Livingstone are behaving like the burghers of medieval Tuscany when they let rip in San Gimignano and built a city of towers that is still today known as, ``la citta delle belle torri,'' or the city of beautiful towers. The difference is that Livingstone suffers from his frequent visits to Manhattan, where he seems to have become entranced with tall buildings.

There is a place for beautiful tall buildings, and the mood in London changed after the completion of Norman Foster's ``Gherkin'' office building for the Swiss Reinsurance Corporation (Swiss Re). It was completed in 2003 and was the first ``very high building'' or ``VHB,'' as they are known in planning jargon, to receive planning permission in the City of London for some 25 years. Height had been positively encouraged down at Canary Wharf, while in the City, restrictions on views of St. Paul's Cathedral and other view corridors were considered sacrosanct.

One of the reasons that Foster's 600-foot tower was allowed was because of its architectural quality. It is a highly original design with its radial plan and continuous triangulated glass skin. Its conical top is a positive and intriguing addition to the skyline. If Foster could do it then other architects, with their developers, thought they should be encouraged.

Livingstone's Plan

Livingstone rather agreed, and, with Prescott's backing, decided to give himself ``strategic'' London planning powers, despite the fact that parliament hasn't yet given the mayor planning powers. His ``London Plan'' is an attempt to orchestrate earlier strategies on London transport, economic development, housing, health and environment.

The mayor has a new phrase for planning -- ``spatial development strategy'' -- and for height codes, a new ``view management framework.'' It is this that really tries to overturn the view protection code, often known as ``St. Paul's heights,'' devised as long ago as 1938.

The intention then was to secure familiar views from Hampstead Heath, Greenwich, Richmond Hill and from bridges over the Thames, and to protect the remarkable Westminster skyline view, where Whitehall suddenly looks like a Kremlin, from the bridge over the lake in St. James's Park.

Capitalist Icons

These guidelines were often respected more in spirit that in the letter, but they acted as a useful caution. Today Prescott and Livingstone are behaving, not like the careful elderly socialists we thought they were, but as new capitalists in love with the skyscraper, their ultimate icon.

After the public success of the ``Gherkin,'' it became the turn of the ``Glass Shard,'' the popular name for the new London Bridge Tower, designed by Renzo Piano, which will reach 1,016 feet. At 66 stories, it will be 200 feet taller than Canary Wharf and the tallest tower in Europe -- a tapering glass spire described by its architect as ``sharp and light.'' There was a three-year public inquiry into this tall building and only Prescott's intervention secured the planning consent.

Glass Spike

It could well be a masterly monument for London, and its mixture of uses -- shops, hotel, leisure and apartments -- should ensure that is not just an isolated and lonely glass spike. The Renzo Piano Building Workshop, based in Genoa and Paris, has extraordinary experience in other European cities and their enhancement of the waterfront in Genoa and the new Potsdamer Platz in Berlin both show qualities that could serve London well.

Other areas of London that are about to feel the Prescott effect include Waterloo, Greenwich, Deptford and Bermondsey and, perhaps most controversially, Chelsea, much of which will be overwhelmed by a site at the Lots Road Power Station close to Chelsea Harbour.

Here, architect Terry Farrell, once a leader of British postmodernism, has designed two giant towers -- one 37 stories and one 25 stories -- which he describes as having a ``sentinel role'' on the Thames riverside landscape.

Locally, they are extremely unpopular and are only being built because -- guess what -- Prescott intervened. He has been unfaithful to the planning rules for London by his passion for totemic high-rises that will largely do nothing for the beauty of the city.

Neither will they add to his popularity -- instead they stand as modish monuments to his inadequacies as a former environment minister. Neither Prescott nor Livingstone seems to be able to rise above the banal when they are trying to satisfy their edifice complexes. It's the capital city that is suffering.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Colin Amery at [email protected]

Trainee Apprentice MOD
7,884 Posts
That article was utterly confusing. 1/2 of the article seems to exude positivity, the last halfsuddenly and haphazardly critical. Weird.

Overall then it is muddled and makes no real statement. If I was the editor, that man would be sacked immediatley.

Bada Bing!
2,369 Posts
lyonsdown said:
I didn't know that Vauxhall tower construction has begun? Is this correct?
There is a crane at that end of St Georges Wharf, I assumed it was for the last block of the flats before the tower.

Strange article...

8,888 Posts
I just sent the c..t an email asking him what is was all about?
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