London SE1 website team

High Court challenge "likely" in Doon Street Tower row

A barrister representing the City of Westminster and the Royal Park Agency has told a public inquiry that "it is likely" that Hazel Blears' decision to approve the 44-storey Doon Street Tower on the South Bank will be challenged.

Doon Street Tower
Doon Street: "energy and class" or a "monstrosity"?

The revelation came on the first day of the public inquiry considering two proposals for tall buildings at the northern end of Blackfriars Road.

Last month communities secretary Hazel Blears overturned the recommendation of a planning inspector and gave the green light to the 44-storey residential tower and public leisure centre proposed by Coin Street Community Builders (CSCB) for the South Bank between Doon Street and Upper Ground, close to the National Theatre.

Barrister Richard Banwell, representing the City of Westminster and the Royal Parks Agency, told the Blackfriars inquiry on Tuesday that " is unlikely to be of surprise to those at this inquiry that the City Council is carefully considering the [Doon Street] decision and that it is likely that it will be challenged".

Coin Street boss Iain Tuckett was present for the first day of the Blackfriars inquiry, during which Blears' decision on his Doon Street scheme is likely to figure prominently.

The main issues at the Doon Street inquiry were the impact of the tower on views from St James' Park and the setting of Somerset House. Ms Blears ruled that the benefit of the leisure centre and swimming pool to be part-funded by the sale of the 329 apartments outweighed the aesthetic impact of the scheme.

Since the secretary of state's decision was made public, debate has raged in the press about the merits of the tower.

Evening Standard columnist Simon Jenkins told readers that the Doon Street Tower "is truly a monstrosity". "This is not planning but little short of corruption," he added, unconvinced by Iain Tuckett's argument that the leisure facilities will help to tackle local obesity and youth violence.

Meanwhile former Design Museum director Stephen Bayley wrote in The Observer that the building "will bring energy and class to a very undistinguished part of London" and accused skyscraper critics of "epic snobbery".

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