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Livingstone sees future in tall buildings

LONDON MAYOR Ken Livingstone this week rubbished English Heritage policies for low rise development in London, arguing that more tall buildings were vital to underpin economic growth.

Speaking at the Tall Storeys?: has skyscraper development at last come of age? conference at the Royal Institute of British Architects, Livingstone said: 'I am always grateful for advice from English Heritage, but I have a wider remit.'

Backing high rise development he added: 'If I am wrong, all that happens is we have some surplus tall buildings cluttering up the skyline. If they are wrong, London's economy would be ruined for a 100 years.'

Although an EH speaker was withdrawn at the last moment because of the general election, chief executive Pam Alexander claimed in a leaflet distributed to the 200 plus delegates that there was no reliable evidence that London's commercial future was dependent on tall buildings.

She warned against the Manhattan syndrome, saying that the 'Canaletto effect' of the current low rise cityscape was just as important in encouraging prosperity.

But Livingstone was adamant that, with the city's population recovering back to its interwar peak of 8M, tall buildings were essential to create a liveable city.

'We need a more radical approach to London's skyline.

Tall buildings in the form of quality landmark buildings in clusters on sites like the north east quadrant of the City, Canary Wharf, Stratford and the East London corridor are an integral part of my long term strategy.'

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