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Livingstone sparks storm over tall buildings policy

A ROW erupted this week between London mayor Ken Livingstone and Islington Council over height restrictions imposed on new buildings.

Livingstone said he would encourage planning applications for developments straddling strategic views across the city.

He also wants to scrap blanket height restriction imposed by boroughs to enable construction of 15 new skyscrapers over the next 15 years. Livingstone was speaking at the launch of the London Plan this week - the first planning and development strategy in London for 30 years.

Livingstone said he will challenge planning applications which are refused on the basis of interfering with strategic views across London.

But Islington was outraged, accusing Livingstone of 'overruling and undermining' local planning regulations developed over many years.

Islington's Council's Unitary Development Plan (UDP) restricts the height of buildings to 30m. It recently forced Arsenal Football Club to redesign its planned new stadium because original proposals exceeded this limit.

But Livingstone said the stadium was redesigned 'at great expense' just to stick to the 30m rule.

'Livingstone takes the view that the London Plan overrides borough plans. The government should allow local consultation instead of enforcing rules from above. We want to retain the right to be pragmatic, ' said Islington Council executive member for sustainability Bridget Fox.

In the London Plan, Livingstone predicts that London's population will grow by 800,000 by 2020 and says that tall buildings will accommodate much of the growth.

Livingstone said that most of the new towers would emerge near Liverpool Street, Canary Wharf and Croydon.


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