BORIS INTERVENES IN BATTLE OF BROADGATE
BORIS Johnson has thrown his weight behind City A.M.’s campaign to allow UBS to build its new headquarters on the Broadgate estate, after English Heritage threatened to scupper the plans by recommending the site for listed status.
The London Mayor told City A.M. he was “astounded” to learn that English Heritage had recommended the collection of 1980s buildings for Grade II* listed status and called on the government to reject the conservation body’s “ludicrous” advice.
If the government decides to accept the recommendation, investment bank UBS will be forced to abandon plans to build a £340m purpose-built headquarters on the site of two buildings earmarked for demolition.
Johnson revealed he has written directly to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, urging him to “protect the British economy by rejecting this ludicrous listing application”. Hunt is expected to announce his decision next month.
The Mayor said he was a “passionate advocate of the preservation of London’s built heritage” but warned a decision in favour of English Heritage could jeopardise the capital’s status as a global financial centre.
“In this case I find it paradoxical that a complex of buildings born of the economic dynamism of London may now be preserved in perpetuity to the detriment of the City’s ongoing growth and vitality.”
He added: “Sites of sufficient size to accommodate the large floor plates required for trading floors and assorted banking paraphernalia are a rare commodity in the Square Mile.
“If London ceases to utilise the few that are available to accommodate these international titans of enterprise then they, and their contribution to London and the national exchequer, will depart for other European financial centres.”
Johnson is the latest high-profile figure to back our campaign. Earlier this week Lord Wolfson, the Conservative peer and Next chief executive, warned that “unthinking bureaucracy is fossilising the UK economy”.
Mark Field, the MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, whose constituency is home to the Broadgate development, also came out against English Heritage’s recommendations.