Examination of Witnesses (Questions 190-209)|
TUESDAY 29 JANUARY 2002
190. The Bristol Visual and Environmental Group
do not seem to be very impressed with the planning department.
Is that unfair?
(Mr Brook) I think that is again a strong statement.
We do work very well with that particular group and have done
so for many years. That particular group is much more interested
in the heritage and the conservation areas of Bristol and has
a very clear view in terms of wishing to preserve the character
of the city. In some cases, that does conflict with the need to
modernise, the need to bring in new buildings and the need to
actually move forward our regeneration areas. I think they would
accept the fact that the city needs to change but that they find
it much more difficult to accommodate the fact that some of the
interaction with historic buildings may not be the way in which
they would proceed themselves.
191. As far as Birmingham is concerned, do you
think that the Arena Central Tower is going to be sustainable?
(Mr Brown) I think it would be, yes. Its proposed
approved form has a complete mix of uses in it. It is going to
provide a lively frontage at ground level; it is well integrated
into the location where it is proposed; it is part of a larger
development; it is not a tower just on its own.
192. When you say "mixed development",
do you mean that people will be able to sleep there, work there,
eat there and shop there?
(Mr Brown) That is how I understand it, yes. It is
not self-contained in that sort of sense. You never have to leave
193. So you will have more people going past
each other, some going out and some coming in?
(Mr Brown) Yes.
194. Do you think the lifts and everything else
can really work efficiently for a building of that size?
(Mr Brown) The developers think so, yes.
195. It is not quite the same thing, is it?
(Mr Brown) I suppose I am being slightly cagey here.
196. If we rely on judgments from developers,
we will get ourselves into even more trouble.
(Mr Brown) One of the problems with that sort of thing
is clearly that recent events, September 11 and all the rest of
it, are bound to make one reconsider the sort of provision of
lifts, escapes and how they work and how the whole thing functions
in terms of safety, and I think that process needs to be gone
through. We are at the moment engaging with the developers and
with other people in a working party to look at the sort of conclusions
that are coming out of North America and elsewhere about the implications
for tall building design to make sure that we do come up with
something which is sustainable and effective.
Sir Paul Beresford
197. Do you not think that our building requirements
are very different to the building requirements for those towns?
(Mr Brown) Clearly the scale of those is enormous
198. The standards that we require of the engineers
and the construction industry are very much stronger here than
(Mr Brown) That is, I hope, true, yes. I am sure that
we should be making sure that we do learn from what is the experience
abroad. For example, the actual structure and approach that was
used for the design of those towers is different to any other
towers and the analysis at the moment seems to be suggesting that
actually that was a very good form of construction and that they
lasted a lot better than one might have been expected. There were
some really serious shortcomings in the way the buildings were
constructed then. We have some pretty good standards.
Chairman: On that note, thank you very much
for your evidence.
Examination of Witnesses
LAY, Chairman, The Chelsea Society,
Chair and HAZEL MCKAY,
Transport Adviser, Bloomsbury Conservation Area Advisory Committee,
199. Can I welcome you to the second session
this morning. Can I ask you to identify yourselves for the record,
(Mr Le Lay) I am Mr David Le Lay; I am Chairman of
the Chelsea Society.
(Mr Tugnutt) I am Tony Tugnutt and I chair the Bloomsbury
Conservation Area Advisory Committee.
(Ms McKay) I am Hazel McKay and I give general planning
advice and support to Mr Tugnutt.
200. Do any of you want to say anything by way
of introduction or are you happy to go straight to questions?
(Mr Tugnutt) Chairman, I would like briefly to say
something about the area of London that we cover because in fact
we cover all conservation areas in Camden south of the Euston
Road and not just Bloomsbury and that includes Gray's Inn, Lincoln's
Inn, Covent Garden and Fitzrovia; so we cover a rather broader
Chairman: We move to the questions.
201. Could you tell us why you are opposed to
the Mayor's policy on tall buildings?
(Mr Tugnutt) We are very concerned about the Mayor's
policy on tall buildings partly because of the way it has emerged.
Ms McKay and myself gave evidence at the Heron inquiry and it
was quite clear that that development was being put forward as
a means of pre-empting the spatial development strategy and this
has been raised by members of the Assembly; so that it would actually
mean that there would be a precedent and indeed the Mayor has
said in his The Independent newspaper articles that he
sees the Heron Tower as setting a precedent for other developments.
In her evidence before the Select Committee last week, Ms Mayhew
said that there is a part of the city that has been identified
as being appropriate for high buildings. In fact, that is not
correct because in its UDP which is currently with the Secretary
of Stateit is going to its final stagethe area that
the Mayor has identified in the cityit is the so-called
Mayor's triangle which is south of Liverpool Street Stationis
defined as being sensitive to high buildings. Other areas of the
city are defined as being inappropriate for high buildings. So
there is no part of the city area which is controlled by the Corporation
that has been identified as being appropriate for high buildings.
202. Are you saying then that you are opposed
to where you think the Mayor wants to place the high buildings
rather than high buildings in general?
(Mr Tugnutt) Part of the problem is that we are not
really practised in considering high buildings because we have
not really had high buildings in London for a very long time.
203. What about Canary Wharf?
(Mr Tugnutt) Indeed, with the exception of Canary
Wharf. I think that Ms Mayhew said that it was important that
we offered developers and leading financial institutions the choice.
Indeed, they had the choice and the crucial relationship which
now exists between Canary Wharf and the city came out at the inquiry.
I cross-examined Lord Rogers who was appearing on behalf of the
Mayor and I asked him whether he would agree with me that in fact
Canary Wharf was in effect our la defence and he agreed
whereas the City had tried to suggest that in fact it is this
area, the so-called Mayor's triangle, which is la defence.
Our view is that it should be open to the Government to actually
say that we do not want high buildings in parts of London. We
can all agree on the criteria in CABE, and English Heritage have
produced a criteria which most people would sign up to, but we
believe that there should be scope for the Government, clearly
the Mayor is not going to do it, and I believe that the future
of London is a national issue. I think it is something that affects
our national identity and therefore I do not think it is just
for those of us in London who should have the determining say
on what happens here, I think it is something for the whole country
and I think we are particularly pleased that the Select Committee
has looked into this matter.
(Mr Le Lay) We in Chelsea are very alarmed
at the Mayor's policy which seems to be "the only way to
go is up" which is the way it has been paraphrased. I think
that, to some extent, we from Bloomsbury and Chelsea are representing,
in a way, amenity societies up and down the country and if you
look at the work of amenity societies, which on the whole are
articulate civic minded people, they have always been against
tall buildings and still are and I therefore think that we are
really looking to the Government to have clear policies and to
provide clear strategic policies for London which isand
I agree with my colleague heretoo important to be left
to the Mayor especially if one has a maverick mayor who seems
to have fallen in love with tall buildings.
204. Are you saying that you and people like
you are against the idea of tall buildings anywhere or is it back
to the location and what is appropriate in a given location?
(Mr Le Lay) I think it is true to say that we are
against tall buildings anywhere.
205. You would have been opposed to St Paul's?
(Mr Le Lay) No. That is the argument that is always
used . . .
Sir Paul Beresford
206. Would you be opposed to Battersea Power
(Mr Le Lay) The Chelsea Society has been going since
1927 and we did oppose Battersea Power Station on the grounds
207. On the grounds of pollution but on the
grounds that it was tall?
(Mr Le Lay) Also that it was tall. One of the first
buildings we opposed was Battersea Power Station.
208. When there is a move to knock it down,
what is your . . .?
(Mr Le Lay) I think it is half knocked down already,
is it not?
209. No; the centre has gone and I am praying.
What is the opinion of the Chelsea Society now because there has
been a lot of rumbling going on in the last 10 or 15 years about
the power station? Would you want it preserved?
(Mr Le Lay) Looking at it from a purely parochial
point of view, it is devastating on the main axis of Sir Christopher
Wren's Royal Hospital.