Independent mayoral candidate Rory Stewart has voiced his opposition to building more “unnecessarily high” buildings in the City of London.
Speaking after a London Chamber of Commerce event today, Stewart said the historical value of the square mile – which he labelled as “probably the most precious heritage site in our capital” – needed to be protected.
The 2020 mayoral candidate said he preferred to build high rises in other places, like Canary Wharf.
“I’m not wary of new buildings, but I am wary of unnecessary high buildings in the square mile,” Stewart said.
“I think the decision made in the eighties to focus high buildings in places like Canary Wharf was the correct decision and to keep trying to turn the City of London into something that looks like Hong Kong would be a mistake.
“That’s where our churches are, that’s where St Paul’s is and it’s probably the most precious heritage site in our capital, and I think that we got it wrong there.”
David Ainsworth, president of the advocacy group City Property Association, said he would be “delighted” to show Stewart how the City was building skyscrapers, while also retaining heritage values.
He said: “It is not the only place for well-designed and managed tall buildings, but much of the opposition to skyscrapers has been about the nature of these being built in unsuitable locations outside the centre of London, without a coherent vision for the capital’s skyline.”
The comments come as the plans to build what will be London’s-second tallest building got the nod yesterday.
The 1,000-foot Trellis Tower will be located close to the City of London’s famous Gherkin building.
While planning responsibility for the square mile lies with the City of London Corporation, the mayor of London still has power to veto those decisions.
Sadiq Khan scrapped plans earlier this year to build the so-called Tulip high rise, after he said the design was of “insufficient quality”.
Responding to Stewart’s comments, a City Hall spokesperson said: “When located in the right place and designed with safety and their surroundings firmly in mind, the Mayor believes tall buildings can play a role in providing much-needed space for businesses.”
Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita said she supported the development of high rises in the City as long as they are “built to the highest environmental standards”.
Caroline Lucas, leader of the City Hall Green party, said: “These dinosaur skyscrapers should be relegated to the past where they belong.”
Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey declined to comment.