Page last updated at 14:23 GMT, Monday, 15 June 2009 15:23 UK

Tower would 'harm famous views'

Artists impression of how the tower would look on the Southbank
Critics say the tower would have a negative impact on the South Bank

Plans for a controversial 43-storey tower block on London's South Bank have come under attack at the High Court.

On Monday, Westminster City Council joined forces with English Heritage in a bid to quash planning permission for Coin Street's Doon Street tower.

Neil King QC showed a judge photographs to support their claim that the tower would cause irreparable harm to some of London's most famous views.

Hazel Blears approved it last August while she was Communities Secretary.

She approved it despite planning inspector Philip Wilson's recommendation that the scheme be refused following a three-week public inquiry.

'Architectural vandalism'

He expressed concern over the tower's impact on famous London views and the settings of conservation and listed buildings.

The tower proposal included permission for 329 residential units, a community sports centre and swimming pool and floor space for shops, restaurants and bars and underground parking for 56 cars.

Developers Coin Street Community Builders said the tower would provide much-needed housing and community facilities.

At the time, Rosemarie MacQueen, head of planning at Westminster, described it as "an act of architectural vandalism".

At the High Court on Monday, Mr King, appearing for Westminster council and English Heritage, said the building was too tall for its site and would have an unacceptably adverse impact on the setting of the Royal National Theatre, Royal Festival Hall and harm views across the Thames from Somerset House and St James's Park.

He told Judge Mole that Ms Blears' decision to grant the tower planning permission was so legally flawed it should be quashed.

The current Communities Secretary John Denman and Lambeth Council, the local planning authority for the South Bank, are defending Ms' Blears decision in a hearing expected to last two days.

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