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Westminster Council leader slams London planning system

Westminster City Council leader Sir Simon Milton has warned that giving new powers to Mayor Ken Livingstone to approve construction of tall buildings and override local councils will create needless bureaucracy in London's planning system.
The Mayor, who has given his support to tall buildings in London, is about to win controversial new planning powers that will allow him to over-ride local councils and approve buildings 30 meters or higher. But in a speech yesterday to the Architecture Foundation and Debate London think tank, Milton said: 'Westminster does not oppose all tall buildings or modern architecture. Both have an important contribution to make in keeping London economically competitive. But the current indiscriminate approach adopted by the Mayor will damage some of the things that make London special and a location of choice for international business.'He argues that the Mayor of London Order - which forms part of the GLA Bill - defines strategic applications in a way that is far too broad and his interference is likely to cause greater friction between the boroughs, the Mayor and developers. He argues that this extra bureaucracy and the hostility it could generate by interfering in a variety of planning decisions will fail to make the system more efficient or more understandable.Milton told the Foundation that he was also deeply worried about the length of time it took for Mr Livingstone to decide on planning applications referred to his office.

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