The view of St Paul's Cathedral from King Henry's Mound in Richmond Park has been "destroyed" by a skyscraper looming behind the dome, according to campaigners who say that rules protecting historic views have been ignored, The Times (subscription required) reports. According to the newspaper, the cathedral's governing body, Historic England and the Royal Parks "have all complained that they were not notified or consulted" when the developer of the Manhattan Loft Garden tower was seeking planning permission. "The case has raised concerns that the rules on protected views are too weak to shield historic vistas from surging demand for luxury residential towers and office blocks," the newspaper reports.
In a letter to The Times, Friends of Richmond Park and five other groups that help to preserve London's great parks say that the Stratford tower "breaches the intent and possibly the letter" of the protection of the view from Henry VIII's Mound to St Paul's Cathedral. "Five of London's protected views are from royal parks (two from Primrose Hill and one each from Richmond, Greenwich and Hyde parks," the letter said. "Their protection needs reinforcing. They should not be cast away by ill-judged planning decisions. Once given up, they will be lost forever."
But in a leading article, The Times (subscription required) says that the groups are "wrong to cry foul". It says that there is a more important point than aesthetics at stake. The newspaper says: "London has a deep and deepening housing crisis. The Stratford tower is part-residential, albeit very high-value. Before long, the capital will face a choice between building upwards or outwards. The choice is between spoilt parks or modified views from parks. Far better to opt for the latter."
An effort to free plots for property development by offering redundant public land "at a fair price" has resulted in the sale of only five central government sites since 2014, the Financial Times (subscription required) reports. According to the newspaper, the Right to Contest scheme "has seen a sluggish take-up, demonstrating the government's struggle to dispose of surplus public land, despite the housing shortage".
The chief executive of housebuilder Redrow is "at war" with Britain's newts, hibernating dormice, bats and nesting birds, the Daily Telegraph reports. John Tutte told the newspaper: "The UK has the largest colonies of great crested newts in the whole of Europe. We haven’t got a shortage, there’s no threat to great crested newts in the UK, but it’s European legislation." The newspaper says that a recent rule change by Natural England means that housebuilders can move newts off the site to another colony. But Tutte said: "You can’t collect and transport the newts to new sites if the temperature is below 5 degrees. So it writes off the winter for being able to do those works on the site."