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Deputy mayor: 'Lack of skyscraper masterplan for Isle of Dogs is problem'

City Hall has criticised plans for dozen of tall towers on the Isle of Dogs amid continued debate over London’s changing skyline

Deputy mayor Edward Lister hit out at the proposed redevelopment of South Quay, voicing his concerns about a lack of a masterplan regulating the development of skyscrapers in the area.

Speaking yesterday at an AJ100 breakfast event at Claridge’s, Lister said: ‘[City Hall] does not have a problem with towers in general because both the London Plan and most borough planning policies have identified areas where tall buildings should be positioned and roughly what they should look like.

‘Where there is a problem is an area like the Isle of Dogs, which lacks a comprehensive plan. South Quay in particular is made up of lots of little plots sat next to each other and where each of the [20-odd] landowners want a tall building.

“There are clear issues around what would that mean for London’s skyline, so we need to do some work on it.”

Lister is understood to be working with Tower Hamlets Council to draw up a strategic planning framework for the Isle of Dogs.

In a statement sent to the AJ later today, Lister said: “The mayor wants to see the comprehensive regeneration of South Quay and the surrounding area and looks forward to discussing with Tower Hamlets Council and the other relevant agencies in due course how this can best be achieved.”

Among the schemes earmarked for South Quay is South Quay Plaza, a 900-home scheme by Foster + Partners’ for two towers of 36 and 73 storeys.

Once complete, the scheme - for Berkeley Homes - will be the tallest residential building in the UK.

Gerard Maccreanor, partner at Maccreanor Lavington architects, which has been working with Tower Hamlets on plans for South Quay, said: ‘The problem with this area is the unprecedented level of developer interest. Each developer is bringing forward plans for tall buildings in isolation from one another and without coordinating their proposals.

‘If planning is granted on a first come first served basis and there is no masterplan guidance in place - as is the case - we will have a situation where the first tall buildings and dense developments use up capacity in social and transport infrastructure and create daylight and sunlight restrictions on adjacent plots, potentially causing other schemes to collapse.’

‘The mayor wants to maximise development across the area, so is working with Tower Hamlets to sort the issue by drawing up a coherent masterplan with the appropriate public realm and other facilities to support development.’

However, Maccreanor insisted the situation at South Quay was to his knowledge unique and not indicative of an emerging mayoral policy to exert greater control over tall buildings proposed for other parts of London.

At the event, Lister also highlighted the acute skills shortage facing architecture and called for the industry to do more to ‘sell’ a career in the built environment to school and college students. Increasing uptake to new university technical colleges (UTCs) is one solution, he added.

‘Construction and related skills is one of the UK’s biggest exports and we must find more and better ways of fostering talent. How many people here today have actively been selling the excitement of a career in architecture to schools?’

The AJ 100 is a club of the biggest architecture practices in the UK. Breakfast networking events take place across the country every quarter.

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