The London Mayor has backed the proposed 37-storey tower at 20 Fenchurch Street in the City of London as ‘an exemplar of quality architecture,’ a public inquiry heard today.

Alan Simmons, a consultant with planning advisors DP9, which is advising developer Land Securities on the project, dismissed suggestions by Robert McCracken QC, who is representing English Heritage, that the mayor is in two minds about the tower. ‘There is no question that he is enthusiastic and is satisfied that it complies with the London Plan,’ said Simmons.

Cross-examining Simmons, McCracken questioned the lack of residential provision within the scheme and described Land Securities’ contribution to affordable housing off-site as ‘paltry’. ‘Five thousand people will work here and the contribution will not even cover the price of four units,’ McCracken claimed.

In response, Simmons said, ‘Both planning authorities [the City of London and the Greater London Authority] agree that this is not a suitable site for housing.’

Questioned by Russell Harris QC, who is representing Land Securities, Simmons pointed out that none of the major towers in the City that already have planning consent, including those by Swiss Re, Heron, British Land and Difa, have housing provision, ‘because the same principle applies’.

The public inquiry concludes this week. Planning inspector Ken Barton will send his report and recommendation to communities secretary Ruth Kelly for her final verdict on the scheme. A decision is expected to take up to six months.