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Tower of London plan launched; new doubts about Potters Fields

The impact of the Potters Fields development is one of the issues raised in the new draft management plan for the Tower of London World Heritage Site.

Berkeley Homes's eight towers would face the Tower
Berkeley Homes's eight towers would face the Tower of London across the Pool of London.

Historic Royal Palaces, the agency responsible for the Tower of London World Heritage Site, this week launched a public consultation on a new draft management plan for the heritage site and its setting.

The plan notes that Berkeley Homes' proposed development of eight cylindrical towers on the Potters Fields site opposite the Tower of London gained planning permission despite the "strong objection" of Historic Royal Palaces and Southwark Council.

The document warns that – if built – the Ian Ritchie-designed towers will "become the main focus of attention in views in this direction from the Tower, because of their size, form and material (clear glass)".

Reflecting the declared intention of Berkeley Homes to proceed with the construction of just three of the towers on the land its owns, the plan notes that this opens up the possibility of a building on the council-owned land closer to the river which could "mitigate their impact".

Southwark: legal advice says Berkeley can't proceed

However Berkeley's partial construction plan was thrown into doubt last week when a Southwark Council source told this website that the authority's legal advice suggested that the developer would need to seek fresh planning permission if it were not able to implement the whole scheme for which it currently has permission.

The high-level council source indicated that a changed political climate since the 2004 planning inquiry – with the government stung by UNESCO's criticism into promising 'buffer zones' around London's world heritage sites – offered a new window of opportunity for the scheme's opponents.

Potters Fields was one of the sites visited by UNESCO inspectors last November ahead of their report criticising the lack of protection for the setting of the Tower of London.

Views from the Queen's Walk

The view of the Tower of London from City Hall is protected by the Mayor of London's London Plan. As the draft management plan notes: "The view of the Tower from the river and the south bank allows Londoners and visitors alike to appreciate what is undoubtedly one of the finest views of the City."

Recently English Heritage raised concerns about the impact of new tall buildings in the City of London – including the so-called 'Walkie-Talkie' – on views from the Queen's Walk near City Hall.

The consultation period on the Tower of London World Heritage Site Management Plan runs until 4 May.

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