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lpac urges government to act on guidance for tall buildings

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The London Planning Advisory Committee has warned that London could end up with no formal guidance on tall buildings for at least another three years if the government ignores the issue in the run-up to the establishment of the Greater London Authority.

In a new report following consultation on its draft advice on high buildings and strategic views in London published in February, lpac said that London could be left with 'an out-of-date policy framework' if the government does not accept the lpac's advice or chooses to issue its own guidance and go out to more consultation.

There were over 90 responses to the draft document - after 500 copies were distributed - mostly offering 'general support' but also proposals for changes of detail. Some said that a vision of London's skyline should be included, but there was no consensus on what the physical shape of the skyline should be. 'Both the 'Canaletto' skyline and a 'Manhattan- type' skyline find favour, but a consensus emerged that the present form of the skyline should be retained,' says the report.

Questions also surrounded what the definition of a high building should be, what constitutes a 'cluster' of skyscrapers, and what heights should be permitted. Concern was also expressed that 'planners are not qualified to assess architectural quality but that site context was important and should be added.'

The Royal Fine Art Commission welcomed the advice but was concerned that the identification of areas suitable for high buildings would increase land values greatly and that suggestions that high buildings should act as 'landmarks' implied that all towers should be isolated.

English Heritage welcomed the work on strategic panoramas, metropolitan views and a mechanism for identifying buildings with a negative impact, but wanted more detail on sustainable development and on dealing with riverside development on the River Thames.

lpac now intends to revise the report and, subject to agreement from its members, to discuss providing guidance with the government.

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