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UNESCO Delay At Risk Threat

After plenty of fretting, and even a public inquiry called into one of the planned skyscrapers of London as a result of concerns about the damage that could be done, the United Nations heritage body, UNESCO has decided not to place the Tower of London and Westminster heritage sites on the list of endangered monuments for this year.

Unfortunately for developers this doesn't mean that the accusatory eye of UNESCO has been lifted entirely yet, the committee will be expecting a follow-up report on the situation next year to see if they have been negatively impacted maintaining some of the pressure against high-rise developments in central London making it hard to read anything too meaningful into the decision.

On one hand it could be nothing more than a damaging stay of execution timed to be implemented next year to the maximum political damage when pro-development London mayor, Ken Livingstone runs for re-election.

On the other hand it could be seen as a mark of approval of the strict planning criteria already in place in London even if they don't specifically protect world heritage sites but rather all grade A buildings.

This is something that recently the government has finally been looking at by overseeing the drafting of management plans specifically for World Heritage Sites which are presently treated no differently in English (or Scottish) law from other Grade A listed buildings.

This is how it's been welcomed by both the British Government and English Heritage even though EH have been busy fighting a public inquiry, in part on the grounds of concern UNESCO had previously raised although the failure of UNESCO to fully acquit tall buildings saves the heritage lobby from being stranded embarrassingly alone. Keeping the axe hovering insures the threat that if Land Securities do win their public inquiry with 20 Fenchurch Street then the Tower of London could be put on the "in danger" register in the future sustaining political clout in the planning process.

All in all, it's a clever political decision from UNESCO that goes neither one way nor the other immediately. Whether it is a victory for either side will only be revealed in time.

Article Related buildings:

The White Tower

The White Tower
Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey
20 Fenchurch Street

20 Fenchurch Street
The Tower of London
The Tower of London