Letter: Tower a threat to St Paul's skyline

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The Independent Online
Sir: In 1934, a previous Surveyor to the Fabric of St Paul's, Godfrey Allen, foresaw that the changing skyline of London could threaten the world-famous image of St Paul's Cathedral rising above the city ("Will Sir Norman Foster's building be the tallest in Europe, or just pie in the sky?", 10 September).

He devised a set of guidelines, known as the "St Paul's Heights", which limit the height of development within a certain area around the cathedral. These guidelines have been administered by the City planning authority ever since. More recently, protection has been given to long-distance views of the cathedral from as far away as Richmond Park and Greenwich.

Norman Foster's proposed London Millennium Tower does not lie within the area protected by the St Paul's Heights, nor does it infringe any of the selective long-distance views. Nevertheless, it introduces to London a quantum leap in scale which raises questions about the value that Londoners, and indeed the nation, place on the image projected by the skyline of the city.

It is understandable that in the absence of a unitary authority for London, the City should wish to encourage a building which expresses its dominance over adjoining areas; but all who value the potent image of the dome of St Paul's rising above the rooftops of London should be aware of the full extent of the height from which the Millennium Tower building will, if built, look down on Wren's masterpiece.

The respective heights are 385.5 metres (Millennium Tower) and 111.5 metres (St Paul's Cathedral).


Surveyor to the Fabric of

St Paul's Cathedral