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London SE1 website team

'Shard of Glass' row back on the agenda

With a public inquiry less than a month away the controversy over Renzo Piano's proposed London Bridge Tower - dubbed the 'Shard of Glass' - has been reignited.

It has been reported that developer Irvine Sellar is threatening to take his 500 million project abroad if Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott refuses to give it the go-ahead. Sellar has said that the 'shard' could just as easily go to cities as diverse as Frankfurt or Dubai if the DPM decides it isn't right for Southwark.

Supported by Ken Livingstone and Southwark Council, the scheme is vigorously opposed by English Heritage on the grounds that it will damage views of central London landmarks.

Sellar must convince the government inspector and the DPM of the project's merits when the inquiry commences on 15 April.

Last week the Sellar Property Group unveiled new images of Renzo Piano's design for the London Bridge Tower which they claim will be an instantly recognisable symbol for London.

The developers also claim that the 'shard' will act as a catalyst for further investment and regeneration in the area, providing 10,000 new jobs as well as six floors of public spaces and amenities.

Irvine Sellar said that since the last consultations on the plans, the "public realm issues have been given much more consideration and our design team has risen to the challenge of ensuring that London Bridge Tower will be a world-class addition to our capital City.

Sellar emphasised the role that the tower would play in the SE1 regeneration process, claiming that his plan would "revitalise the run down London Bridge area whilst at the same time creating thousands of new jobs".

The planning application for London Bridge Tower was submitted in March 2001 and was approved by Southwark's planning committee in March 2002. The Mayor of London also gave his support.

In July 2002 the Deputy Prime Minister called in the planning application so that a public inquiry could be held to consider the issues involved.

The developers claim that the consultation process has been "thorough", with three main exhibitions and approximately 250 presentations to over 60 groups. Figures from the Sellar Property Group show that 70% of those who took part in the consultation were in favour of the plans.

The package of transport and "public realm" improvents promised by Sellar include 2 million to improve London Bridge underground station and 3 million for improvements to the bus stations and bus links from London Bridge. Southwark Council also stands to gain 1.4 million for street furniture and landscaping, and an additional 1 million for public art.

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