Tories fix their sights on saving the views

VIEWS from Parliament Hill, Primrose Hill and Kenwood will regain the protective status taken away by Ken Livingstone

Katie Davies

VIEWS from Parliament Hill, Primrose Hill and Kenwood will regain the protective status taken away by Ken Livingstone.

Boris Johnson's new planning chief, Sir Simon Milton, has already promised to restore protected views of Parliament and St Paul's Cathedral from the viewing points, the Ham&High can reveal.

In July 2007 the viewing corridors were narrowed to allow taller developments in the capital.

But in an email to Gospel Oak councillor Chris Philp on Friday the planning tsar, who has been in power for just a week, said protection work was already underway.

"Boris made it clear to me that he wants an immediate return to the status quo as far as strategic views management is concerned," said Sir Simon, who is stepping down as leader of Westminster Council.

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"I will be having discussions with officers on implementing this as expediently as possible."

Cllr Philp said: "There was a campaign to Ken about this and he ignored it. I am really pleased that now something is being done.

"This response from Boris Johnson will help to protect our historic views, which is good news for London and good news for Hampstead. I am just glad we've been listened to."

Brian Coleman, Tory Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden confirmed that changes were "on the table and top of the agenda."

Mr Livingstone's change was made with no public consultation last year and was revealed by the Ham&High.

The Heath and Hampstead Society campaigned to have the viewing corridors restored.

Chairman Tony Hillier said this week: "This is great news and we are absolutely delighted. This allows future generations of Londoners to enjoy historic views of the city. It also gives us hope that the new mayor will respect proper consultation and introduce legislation in a democratic fashion - a complete contrast to the previous mayor."

The changes introduced in July last year saw the amount of land either side of St Paul's and Westminster protected from large development narrowed. From Kenwood the view of St Paul's used to have 300m of space either side in which large developments were prohibited, but that was slashed to 140m. From Parliament Hill it was cut by the same amount and from Parliament Hill to Parliament the distance went from 300m to 210m.

From Primrose Hill to St Paul's it was dropped from 300m to 250m and to Parliament from 300m to 120m.

In an interview with the Ham&High during his election campaign, Mr Johnson vowed to undo the changes. "I think it is quite wrong that we are salami slicing our historic views," he said.

"We can perfectly house tall buildings in the capital without ruining them - I want to go back to the viewing corridor guidelines of the early nineties."