Each year New London Architecture publishes a survey of tall buildings which are being built or will be built in the capital. This year’s figure is over 500. With so many in the pipeline today it is worth recalling the impact that the public enquiry, nearly 20 years ago, into the application to build the Heron Tower has had on planning in London. The proposals for the tower were resisted by English Heritage, supported by the Corporation of London and robustly fought for by Gerald Ronson the developer of the KPF-designed tower. The plans were called in by John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister, in 2001 and following a fractious public inquiry Prescott agreed with his inspector that there was no significant harm to the setting of St Paul’s and granted it permission.
The inquiry was so costly for EH that their resistance to future developments was sorely diminished, Mayor Ken Livingstone was a keen supporter of towers and other permissions soon followed, most notably for The Shard.
The Heron Tower Inquiry was a turning point in London planning and it will be fascinating to hear the recollections of some of the key players in that saga at our meeting, held in conjunction with the Royal Town Planning Institute, on May 30th.