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Policy HC3 Strategic and Local Views


  1. Strategic Views include significant buildings or urban landscapes that help to define London at a strategic level. They are seen from places that are publicly-accessible and well-used. The Mayor has designated a list of Strategic Views (Table 7.1) that he will keep under review. Development proposals must be assessed for their impact on a designated view if they fall within the foreground, middle ground or background of that view.
  2. Within the designated views, the Mayor will identify landmarks that make aesthetic, historic, cultural or other contributions to the view and which assist the viewer’s understanding and enjoyment of the view.
  3. The Mayor will also identify Strategically-Important Landmarks in the views that make a very significant contribution to the image of London at the strategic level or provide a significant cultural orientation point. He will seek to protect vistas towards Strategically-Important Landmarks by designating landmark viewing corridors and wider setting consultation areas. These elements together form a Protected Vista. Each element of the vista will require a level of management appropriate to its potential impact on the viewer’s ability to recognise and appreciate the Strategically-Important Landmark. These and other views are also subject to wider assessment beyond the Protected Vista.
  4. The Mayor will also identify and protect aspects of views that contribute to a viewer’s ability to recognise and appreciate a World Heritage Site’s authenticity, integrity, and attributes of Outstanding Universal Value. This includes the identification of Protected Silhouettes of key features in a World Heritage Site.
  5. The Mayor has prepared Supplementary Planning Guidance on the management of the designated views – the London View Management Framework Supplementary Planning Guidance (LVMF SPG). The Mayor will, when necessary, review this guidance.
  6. Boroughs should include all designated views, including the protected vistas, in their Local Plans and work with relevant land owners to ensure there is inclusive public access to the viewing location, and that the view foreground, middle ground and background are effectively managed in accordance with the LVMF SPG.
  7. Boroughs should clearly identify important local views in their Local Plans and strategies. Boroughs are advised to use the principles of Policy HC4 London View Management Framework for the designation and management of local views. Where a local view crosses borough boundaries, the relevant boroughs should work collaboratively to designate and manage the view.

A number of views make a significant contribution to the image and character of London at the strategic level. This could be because of their composition, their contribution to the legibility of the city, or because they provide an opportunity to see key landmarks as part of a broader townscape, panorama or river prospect. The Mayor will seek to protect the composition and character of these views, particularly if they are subject to significant pressure from development. New development can make a positive contribution to the views and this should be encouraged, but in some cases, development is likely to compromise the setting or visibility of a key landmark and should be resisted.

There are three types of Strategic Views designated in the London Plan – London Panoramas, River Prospects, and Townscape Views (including Linear Views). Each view can be considered in three parts; the foreground, middle ground and background. The front and middle ground areas are the areas between the viewing place and/ or the natural features that form its setting. The background area to a view extends away from the foreground or middle ground into the distance. Part of the background may include built or landscape elements that provide a backdrop to a Strategically-Important Landmark.

The Mayor identifies three Strategically-Important Landmarks in the designated views: St Paul’s Cathedral, the Palace of Westminster and the Tower of London. Within some views, a Protected Vista to a Strategically-Important Landmark will be defined and used to protect the viewer’s ability to recognise and appreciate the Strategically-Important Landmark. The Protected Vista is composed of two parts: 

  • Landmark Viewing Corridor – the area between the viewing place and a Strategically-Important Landmark that must be maintained if the landmark is to remain visible from the viewing place. 
  • Wider Setting Consultation Area – the area enclosing the Landmark Viewing Corridor in both the foreground and middle ground, and background of the Protected Vista. Development above a threshold height in this area could compromise the viewer’s ability to recognise and appreciate the Strategically-Important Landmark. 

The Mayor has prepared the London View Management Framework Supplementary Planning Guidance (LVMF SPG) on the management of views designated in this Plan. This SPG includes plans for the management of views as seen from specific assessment points within the viewing places. The SPG provides advice on the management of the foreground, middle ground and background of each view. This guidance identifies viewing places within which viewing locations can be identified. It also specifies individual assessment points from which management guidance and assessment should be derived. Some views are experienced as a person moves through a viewing area and assessment of development proposals should consider this. The SPG will be reviewed when necessary to ensure it is compliant with Policy HC3 Strategic and Local Views and Policy HC4 London View Management Framework. The SPG provides guidance on the treatment of all parts of the view, and where appropriate the components of the Protected Vista for each view.

Table 7.1 - Designated Strategic Views

London Panoramas
1Alexandra Palace to Central London
2Parliament Hill to Central London
3Kenwood to Central London
4Primrose Hill to Central London
5Greenwich Park to Central London
6Blackheath Point to Central London
Linear Views
7The Mall to Buckingham Palace
8Westminster Pier to St Paul’s Cathedral
9King Henry VIII’s Mound, Richmond to St Paul’s Cathedral
River Prospects
10Tower Bridge
11London Bridge
12Southwark Bridge
13Millennium Bridge and Thames side at Tate Modern
14Blackfriars Bridge
15Waterloo Bridge
16The South Bank
17Golden Jubilee/Hungerford Footbridges
18Westminster Bridge
19Lambeth Bridge
20Victoria Embankment between Waterloo and Westminster Bridges
21Jubilee Gardens and Thames side in front of County Hall
22Albert Embankment between Westminster and Lambeth Bridges along Thames Path near St Thomas’ Hospital
Townscape Views
23Bridge over the Serpentine, Hyde Park to Westminster
24Island Gardens, Isle of Dogs to Royal Naval College
25The Queen’s Walk to Tower of London
26St James’ Park to Horse Guards Road
27Parliament Square to Palace of Westminster

The Mayor will work with landowners of the Protected Vista viewing locations to ensure the viewing points are clearly identified. Boroughs and landowners should manage the viewing locations to ensure they are accessible to the public and, where appropriate, mark the viewing location and provide information about landmarks that can be seen in the view. Vegetation in the foreground and middle ground of a view must be regularly maintained in accordance with the LVMF SPG management guidance to ensure the view is not obscured.

Clearly identifying important local views in Local Plans and strategies enables the effective management of development in and around the views. Local views should be given the same degree of protection as Strategic Views.