The head of the British Property Federation has attacked the UN body that polices the preservation of world heritage sites for threatening to put the Tower of London on its “endangered” list

Unesco this week said it may classify a number of UK world heritage sites as endangered because of the impact of planned tall buildings such as the Shard of Glass near the Tower of London.

Liz Peace, BPF’s chief executive, said: “How dare Unesco criticise us? There’s plenty of other sites in the world they could be giving their attention to. One might ask they put in a little more effort to protect [Cambodian forgotten city] Angkor Wat.

“If they’re saying the whole of the City of London has to be subservient to Unesco, what kind of message does that send about London’s status as the leading financial centre? It’s impossible to have a proper functioning economic centre if you’re only worried about heritage.”

Peace was speaking as the BPF launched a report on tall buildings designed to persuade London mayor Boris Johnson of the case for more towers.

The news came as the joint public inquiry into Ian Simpson and Wilkinson Eyre’s Blackfriars towers began in London. English Heritage said the developments on the South Bank would “contribute to a harmful erosion of the setting of nationally important heritage assets in central London”, and one Westminster councillor called the designs “towering monstrosities”.