Assembly calls on Mayor to rethink approach to tall buildings

05 November 2014

The London Assembly has called on the Mayor to rethink his approach to tall buildings on London’s skyline. A motion agreed today [1] concludes that to protect London’s skyline the Mayor should carry out a number of actions:

establish a skyline commission made up of a panel of design experts to offer advice and carry out reviews

develop more rigorous masterplanning processes, including better engagement with local residents, especially within Opportunity Areas

develop an interactive 3D model of London’s skyline to allow development proposals to be visualised

require all developers with proposals for tall buildings to consider other building configurations

Navin Shah AM, who proposed the motion, said: "This Assembly notes with concern the revelation earlier this year by New London Architecture that over 230 tall buildings are in the pipeline for development. ‘’The London Plan includes policies on tall buildings, but these are not being properly implemented in planning decisions. There are also examples where height limits established by Opportunity Area Planning Frameworks have been ignored. ‘’The Mayor of London needs to seriously rethink his approach to tall buildings in London’’ The full text of the motion is: “This Assembly notes with concern the revelation earlier this year by New London Architecture that over 230 tall buildings are in the pipeline for development. The cumulative impact of these developments on London’s skyline is not being thoroughly considered, with the resultant often bland design and irreversible negative impact posing a threat to London’s heritage, character and architectural distinctiveness. 80% of these buildings are residential, mostly luxury flats which will do little to alleviate the housing crisis. Tall buildings can make a positive contribution to city life and the skyline, but only if they’re in the right places, meet the right needs, and respect the character and identity of the surrounding area. However, the flaws of ill-considered tall buildings have been well demonstrated by the skyline campaign. The London Plan includes policies on tall buildings, but these are not being properly implemented in planning decisions. There are also examples where height limits established by Opportunity Area Planning Frameworks have been ignored. This Assembly therefore calls on the Mayor to rethink his approach to tall buildings in London. To protect London’s skyline and arrive at well considered appropriate high rise buildings the Mayor should establish a ‘skyline commission’ made up of design experts from a variety of fields to offer advice on commissioning, have an enabling role and carry out design reviews. The Mayor should also develop more detailed and rigorous masterplanning processes, including engagement of local residents and stakeholders, especially within Opportunity Areas, and implement a clusters policy. There should be a review of existing protected views with the intention of adding new viewing corridors, as well as a recognition that views from all angles – even if not within a protected corridor - should be a planning consideration. The GLA should support the development of a fully interactive 3D computer model of London’s emerging skyline in order to allow development proposals to be visualised within the context of their contribution to the London skyline. Finally, the Mayor should require all developers with proposals for tall buildings to consider other building configurations.” Notes to editors:

The motion was agreed unanimously. Watch the webcast.

Navin Shah AM who proposed the motion is available for interviews. Please see contact details below.

As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For more details, please contact Lisa Lam in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 4067. For out-of-hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.