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Boris backtracks on "plastic surgery" claims over Waterloo towers

The Mayor of London has backtracked on his colourful claim to have performed "plastic surgery" on a proposed skyscraper development next to Waterloo Station.

Boris backtracks on
The Mayor has toned down his earlier claim to have "lopped several storeys" off this proposed development. The changes were made long before Boris Johnson arrived at City Hall.

Last month Boris Johnson told LBC 97.3 that he had cut the height of the P&O development on the Elizabeth House site in York Road and added trees to the rooftop.

"I lopped several storeys off the ugly sisters; I carpeted them with trees on the top," he said.

We pointed out that the reduction in the proposed height of the buildings and the addition of the cluster of trees on the roof of the central tower had predated Mr Johnson's arrival at City Hall by at least nine months, casting significant doubt on the accuracy of the Mayor's statement.

As a result of the report on this website, Lambeth & Southwark's London Assembly member Val Shawcross tabled a question to the Mayor asking him to clarify what changes to the design he had been responsible for.

In a written answer published last week the Mayor makes the more modest claim to have encouraged P&O to include "additional greening" in the designs.

Tellingly, his latest comments make no mention of any reduction in height.

"As a result of my comments, the applicant introduced additional greening to the proposal," said the Mayor.

"This included three new 'garden' areas within the public realm. Additionally, there would be the creation of landscaped gardens and/or terraced gardens to the roofs of the three buildings as well as the rooftop trees to Building B."

This new claim stands in contrast to Mr Johnson's earlier assertion that he had "greatly improved" the development by performing "plastic surgery" on the designs by Allies and Morrison.

"'The only place Boris has done any plastic surgery is on his Question Time answers," says Val Shawcross AM.

"He has completely re-written the history of the South London Line in his replies and has airbrushed his comments on the three ugly sisters. Having a well justified opinion which differs from others is absolutely fine, but stretching the truth to hide your true policy isn't!

"From here on in I will keep a pinch of salt with me when reading Boris's comments. He is still a more entertaining writer than elected official!''

Mr Johnson added that he had "requested that additional material should be submitted demonstrating the impact of the proposal from various views".

"This material demonstrated that the various impacts would not be sufficiently intrusive to justify refusing planning permission," he said.

The redevelopment of Elizabeth House was the subject of a public inquiry in April; a final decision will be made by the communities secretary (currently Hazel Blears) in the autumn.

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