Monday, March 26, 2007

Foreigners and Fenchurch street

I walked part the way home along the South Bank this evening being that it was such a nice day out.

Came across one of those human statues who had put his normal clothes back on, but still had the tell-tale silver face.

He spoke French. This surprised me. I suppose, now I think about it, it's a natural job for somebody who's moved to this country and maybe doesn't have great English. Beats digging up potatoes in Norfolk I suppose.

Apart from the fact that these human statues also seem to be popping up all over London there's not much to link that with skyscrapers, so I'll just jump...

... like this, and pretend I've been talking about buildings all along.

So, as I was saying, here are the two most pertinent points from English Heritage's case in the Walkie Talkie inquiry.

"This would become London’s ugliest and most oppressive building. Londoners have not even been asked whether they want this building in their city. "

"...larger, more monolithic and more prominent than St Paul’s Cathedral"
Not much to say about them, other than that they're spot on. Forget the foolish diagrams and appeals to world heritage status - this is the real crux of the argument.

For comedy value, here's a few choice bloopers from English Heritage's arguments (distilled from skyscrapernews' very useful news page).

[On English Heritage's proposed planning restrictions diagram] Conveniently for English Heritage this takes 20 Fenchurch Street out if it were to be adopted by the planning authorities. ... won't just take in 20 Fenchurch Street but also tall buildings on the South Bank ... counting up the gross development value ... opposing over £5 billion pounds worth of new development in London and thousands of new and much needed homes.

... the electricity requirement of keeping it cool which would be ... 57,534 [kWh] per day ... Whilst this might sound like a lot, it compares favourably to other commercial premises ... What makes the attack particularly unusual is that English Heritage have latched on to this figure, scarily huge but totally meaningless without a comparison presented.

.. attack by English Heritage lawyer ... on the lack of affordable housing within the scheme. Given it's an office building centred in the most singularly office district of London ... it's hardly surprising this aspect was neglected by the developer
Well, they made me laugh. Not out loud though.

The planned tower is in the unique position of being called in by the Secretary of State, Ruth Kelly, for a public inquiry despite no-one having referred it. Adding to this unusual situation, is the decision by Kelly herself to fast-track the inquiry, a move that some fear has been taken so she can decide the fate of the building herself before she loses her job in the expected cabinet reshuffle this coming July.

Kelly is no fan of tall buildings or joined up thinking having previously overridden the findings of a public inquiry on Brunswick Quay as well as having campaigned in her capacity as a local MP against policies she has introduced as a minister.
Which makes me more hopeful than I was that the tower wil be rejected.

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