Building up is not the only answer to London’s housing crisis

10 June 2014

Peppering London’s skyline with increasing numbers of taller and taller residential buildings will not solve London’s housing shortage, the London Assembly Planning Committee was told today.

In a wide-ranging hearing about tall buildings and London’s skyline, architect Sunand Prasad told the committee “It is not true that we need to build tall to accommodate people. There are many, many models that can fulfil density requirements without going over 20 stories.”

The Committee heard from developer Tony Pidgley that demand for flats in high rises is on the increase with attitudes changing over the last 25 years and he argued that public demand is driving the developers to build towers.

But Peter Rees, Professor of Places and Planning, UCL, and former City of London Corporation's City Planning Officer warned that “While 27 per cent of people might want to live in tall buildings, 100 per cent of Londoners have to look at them.”

The committee was told that a more coherent approach is needed to protect London’s skyline.

English Heritage Planning and Conservation Director Nigel Barker told Committee members “The Greater London Authority should be taking a clearer lead on how we are going to balance up the need for growth, the need for development, with the protection of our historic environment.”

Nicky Gavron AM, Chair of the Planning Committee, said:

“The debate about the impact of tall buildings on London’s skyline has been rising as fast as the towers that increasingly dominate it.

“Today we heard a wide-range of views about the potential impacts – both good and bad - that increased numbers of skyscrapers could bring to London and pleas for a more coherent city –wide approach to their development.”

“The Planning Committee will now consider in detail the points made to it and make recommendations as to how the Mayor and Greater London Authority can better fulfil that need.”

Notes to editors

  1. Watch a webcast of the meeting.
  2. More details about Planning Committee investigation into Tall Buildings and London’s Skyline.
  3. Guests invited today were:
  • Julia Barfield: Managing Director, Marks Barfield Architects (MBA). .
  • Sir Edward Lister: Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning, GLA.
  • Rowan Moore: architecture critic, The Observer
  • Tony Pidgley CBE: Chairman, Berkeley Group plc.
  • Peter Rees: Professor of Places and City Planning, The Bartlett, UCL.
  • Peter Murray, Chair, New London Architecture
  • Sunand Prasad
  • Nigel Barker, Planning and Conservation Director, English Heritage
  • Jane Wernick, Jane Wernick Associates
  1. Nicky Gavron, Chair of the Planning Committee, is available for interview. See contact details below.
  2. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.