Developers wait to see if new London mayor will act on promise to scrap capital’s skyscrapers
The fates of several high-rise developments in London are hanging in the balance after Boris Johnson’s election as the first Tory mayor of the capital.
Johnson had previously pledged that Ian Simpson’s Beetham Tower, Allies & Morrison’s Elizabeth Street development and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ Doon Street scheme would not be built under his leadership.
The Greater London Authority could not confirm that any of these would go ahead as planned as Building went to press. Wilkinson Eyre’s two towers at 20 Blackfriars Road have also been called in for inquiry, it emerged on Wednesday, giving the mayor the opportunity to oppose them.
Former Westminster council leader Sir Simon Milton has been named as Johnson’s chief adviser on planning. Milton has been a fierce critic of tall buildings and his council has previously objected to the Beetham Tower on the grounds that it would obstruct historic views.
Simpson’s tower is likely to be the first scheme Johnson will give a public opinion on. A public inquiry is imminent, at which the mayor’s office will be required to present evidence.
Lord Rogers’ role as chief design adviser to the mayor’s office was also thrown into doubt by Milton’s appointment.
Lord Rogers’ role as chief design adviser to the mayor is also in doubt.
A source close to the mayor’s office said: “Rogers and Milton would clash a lot. I can’t see Rogers continuing in that position with someone like that in charge of planning.”
It is understood that Sir Terry Farrell is being lined up as a possible replacement for Rogers. However, Farrell and Milton have an uneasy history – Westminster council was instrumental in the scrapping of Farrell’s Paddington Health Campus in 2005.
Neither Rogers nor Farrell would comment on speculation that a new design adviser would be sought for the mayor’s office.
Peter Bishop, director of the mayor’s architecture and design body, Design for London, said this week that it was “business as usual”.
• The long-running plan to transfer control of collapsed tube contractor Metronet to Transport for London (TfL) moved a step closer this week after the announcement that a court hearing to finalise the move will take place on 23 May at the High Court of Justice in Liverpool. It is expected to set a date for the transfer of all Metronet’s staff, contracts and assets to TfL.
What Johnson promised in his manifesto
- An airport in the Thames estuary instead of a third runway at Heathrow
- Scrapping of the former mayor’s 50% affordable housing target in favour of 50,000 new homes
- Release of £130m and GLA-owned land from the government’s regional housing pot to pay for housing for first-time buyers
- £60m to renovate 84,000 empty properties in the capital
- To urge developers to consult with housing associations at planning stage to ensure design quality is central to new developments
- To cut London’s CO2 emissions by 60% from 1990 levels by 2025.