After a surprisingly quick public inquiry, a new skyscraper for the City of London has been approved. Called "the Walkie Talkie" by nickname lovers thanks to its distinctive appearance, the 160 metre tall building will be replacing a 100 metre 1960s tower currently on the site.
The building proposals had been called in by the then Secretary of State for Communities, Ruth Kelly, after concerns were voiced by UNESCO at the increasing number of towers going up in the City of London.
Arguments against the Walkie Talkie that were actually used by English Heritage's QC during the inquiry included -
• It had 'an attention seeking form' and looked like an 'upturned flying saucer' because of the lighting scheme at night.
• The architectural merit of the project was lacking. Norman Foster and Richard Rogers both gave submissions supporting the proposal.
• It would use up to 21 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year – 10% less energy than an average building of comparable size.
• The City of London's 10% target for renewable power was similar to them supporting slavery by not being more radical.
• There was a lack of affordable housing in what would be a wholly office scheme.
• Ken Livingstone was 'in two minds' about the design. Those close to Ken said he loved it
It came as no surprise that Ken Barton, the planning inspector who ran the inquiry, favoured the project, and the new Secretary of State of Communities, Hazel Blears (the one who makes you want to bleach your eyes whenever she is on Question Time), ruled in favour when faced with
such sterling arguments against the development.
Land Securities are already clearing the site for construction but building the project will depend on the market conditions in 2008.
By James Newman