Policy 7.7 Location and design of tall and large buildings



A  Tall and large buildings should be part of a plan-led approach to changing or developing an area by the identification of appropriate, sensitive and inappropriate locations. Tall and large buildings should not have an unacceptably harmful impact on their surroundings.

Planning decisions

B  Applications for tall or large buildings should include an urban design analysis that demonstrates the proposal is part of a strategy that will meet the criteria below. This is particularly important if the site is not identified as a location for tall or large buildings in the borough’s LDF.

C  Tall and large buildings should:

a  generally be limited to sites in the Central Activity Zone, opportunity areas, areas of intensification or town centres that have good access to public transport

b  only be considered in areas whose character would not be affected adversely by the scale, mass or bulk of a tall or large building

c  relate well to the form, proportion, composition, scale and character of surrounding buildings, urban grain and public realm (including landscape features), particularly at street level;

d  individually or as a group, improve the legibility of an area, by emphasising a point of civic or visual significance where appropriate, and enhance the skyline and image of London

e  incorporate the highest standards of architecture and materials, including sustainable design and construction practices

f  have ground floor activities that provide a positive relationship to the surrounding streets

g  contribute to improving the permeability of the site and wider area, where possible

h  incorporate publicly accessible areas on the upper floors, where appropriate

i  make a significant contribution to local regeneration.

D  Tall buildings:

a  should not affect their surroundings adversely in terms of microclimate, wind turbulence, overshadowing, noise, reflected glare, aviation, navigation and telecommunication interference

b  should not impact on local or strategic views adversely

E  The impact of tall buildings proposed in sensitive locations should be given particular consideration. Such areas might include conservation areas, listed buildings and their settings, registered historic parks and gardens, scheduled monuments, battlefields, the edge of the Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land, World Heritage Sites or other areas designated by boroughs as being sensitive or inappropriate for tall buildings. 

LDF preparation

E  Boroughs should work with the Mayor to consider which areas are appropriate, sensitive or inappropriate for tall and large buildings and identify them in their Local Development Frameworks. These areas should be consistent with the criteria above and the place shaping and heritage policies of this Plan.

Supporting text

7.25  Tall and large buildings are those that are substantially taller than their surroundings, cause a significant change to the skyline[1] or are larger than the threshold sizes set for the referral of planning applications to the Mayor. Whilst high density does not need to imply high rise, tall and large buildings can form part of a strategic approach to meeting the regeneration and economic development goals laid out in the London Plan, particularly in order to make optimal use of the capacity of sites with high levels of public transport accessibility. However, they can also have a significant detrimental impact on local character. Therefore, they should be resisted in areas that will be particularly sensitive to their impacts and only be considered if they are the most appropriate way to achieve the optimum density in highly accessible locations, are able to enhance the qualities of their immediate and wider settings, or if they make a significant contribution to local regeneration.

7.26  Tall and large buildings should always be of the highest architectural quality, (especially prominent features such as roof tops for tall buildings) and should not have a negative impact on the amenity of surrounding uses. Opportunities to offer improved permeability of the site and wider area should be maximised where possible.

7.27  The location of a tall or large building, its alignment, spacing, height, bulk, massing and design quality should identify with and emphasise a point of civic or visual significance over the whole area from which it will be visible. Ideally, tall buildings should form part of a cohesive building group that enhances the skyline and improves the legibility of the area, ensuring tall and large buildings are attractive city elements that contribute positively to the image and built environment of London.

7.28  The Mayor will work with boroughs to identify locations where tall and large buildings might be appropriate, sensitive or inappropriate. He will help them develop local strategies to help ensure these buildings are delivered in ways that maximise their benefits and minimise negative impacts locally and across borough boundaries as appropriate. It is intended that Mayoral supplementary guidance on characterisation could help set the context for this. In balancing these impacts, unacceptable harm may include criteria in parts D and E of Policy 7.7. Opportunity area planning frameworks can provide a useful opportunity for carrying out such joint work.

[1]     Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and English Heritage. Guidance on Tall Buildings. CABE, July 2007

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