Sites avoid listing despite World Heritage Committee's concerns over encroaching development

The Tower of London and Westminster Palace will not be placed on a list of world heritage sites in danger, it has emerged.

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee had raised concerns about the negative impact of new developments near both sites, following a visit by delegates to the capital last November. The heritage body feared that Britain was not doing enough to protect the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey from encroachment by skyscrapers.

However, it was decided at a meeting today in New Zealand not to place the sites on the “in danger” list, instead requesting a further report next year.

In March the government promised to strengthen protection for world heritage sites in its heritage white paper by providing buffer zones around the sites.

It is thought this could affect Land Securities massive Victoria station scheme, which has plans for two towers.

Baroness Andrews said the planning system was strong enough to protect the sites. She said: “Our planning system has good checks and balances to ensure that we have robust protection for our unique historic environment while enabling the right development in the right places.”

A decision is also expected from the World Heritage Committee later today on Stonehenge and Liverpool’s waterfront, which will be the centrepiece of next year’s European Capital of Culture. A government spokesperson said he understood these sites would not be placed on the “in danger” list as well.