Monday, January 15, 2007

UNESCO Says Tower of London Threatened

Source: Associated Press/AP Online
Publication date: January 8, 2007

LONDON - The 900-year-old Tower of London, one of Britain's top tourist attractions, will be added to the list of endangered world heritage sites unless the threat from encroaching skyscrapers is resolved, the U.N.'s cultural body said Monday.

Local planners had not done enough to ensure that views of and from the fortress would not be obstructed by surrounding development, including a 1,016-foot building known as the "Shard of Glass" that would be Britain's tallest when completed in 2010, according to a UNESCO interim report.

"It's a question of visual integrity - and that's a problem in all major cities," World Heritage Center spokeswoman Gina Doubleday said.

Although being listed as an endangered heritage site can help secure additional funding and support, citing the Tower would be an embarrassment for Britain. The only site in the developed world currently listed as endangered is Everglades National Park in Florida, which made the list in 1993.

But the government's Department of Culture, Media, and Sport dismissed the concerns, saying it was confident the Tower would not be placed on the list.

"In this country, we have a development control commission that demands very extensive consultations on public matters," department spokesman Toby Sargent said. "In the developments they've had their attention drawn to, the role of the Tower and its place was properly taken into consideration."

The department would be submitting its own report to UNESCO detailing the efforts made to protect the fortress's turreted skyline, he said.

The Tower, built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, was made a World Heritage site in 1988, one of 830 such sites throughout the world.


On the Net:

Tower of London web site:

UNESCO World Heritage:

Shard London Bridge:

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