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Skyline: the campaign trail

Following the spring launch of the AJ/Observer Skyline campaign, here we chart the highlights as our lobbying effort continues to gain ground

March

30th

AJ and The Observer’s Skyline campaign launches in the Sunday newspaper. Critic Rowan Moore criticises the lack of public consultation over more than 200 new towers which have been highlighted in New London Architecture’s London’s Growing Up! exhibition. The paper reports that more than 70 prominent figures including architect Alison Brooks and artist Antony Gormley plus MPs and peers have signed up to the campaign.

Campaign picked up on ITV News.

April

2nd

Skyline campaign debated on the PM show with Eddie Mair on BBC Radio 4.

4th

Mayor Boris Johnson writes a comment piece in the Evening Standard defending London’s planning system and arguing that building tall will help to solve the housing crisis.

AJ’s special Skyline issue lists the 236 skyscrapers planned for the capital in detail and publishes new visualisations of how the towers will change key views of London.

Cover

5th

AJ acting editor Rory Olcayto discusses Skyline campaign on Robert Elms’ radio show on BBC London.

11th

Peter Rees, former planning officer at the City of London, responds in the AJ, claiming that London’s skyline is being ‘trashed’ by a wave of poorly designed residential towers.

Critic Robert Bevan writes Skyline feature in the AJ: A Tale of Two Towers, comparing Richard Rogers’ ‘elegant’ Cheesegrater with Broadway Malyan’s ‘cheap’ and ‘bland’ Vauxhall Tower.

18th

London Assembly’s planning committee agrees to debate the future of the capital’s skyline after lobbying from the AJ.

AJ publishes Ground Control, a feature by Ellis Woodman highlighting London skyscrapers’ typically poor contribution to the streetscape.

AJ publishes news analysis by Ellis Woodman on the 3,500-home Convoys Wharf high-rise scheme in Deptford, which the mayor has approved despite the fact it has a Public Transport Accessibility Level (PTAL) of only between 1 and 2 out of 6.

20th

The Observer reports that English Heritage has rebutted claims by Boris Johnson that the organisation backed almost all of the new towers planned for the capital.

May

2nd

AJ publishes Skylines around the world feature: a look at how planning policy on high-rise development differs in cities as diverse as New York, Rotterdam, Vancouver and Singapore.

29th

Peter Rees tells BBC London TV that many of London’s proposed towers are little more than ‘deposit boxes’ for ‘dirty Russian money’. He says: ‘People are buying for financial security; they are furnishing them, locking the door and maybe they come and have a vacation for a couple of weeks a year.’

June

2nd

Campaign is debated at a keynote talk during the London Festival of Architecture. Participants include Rowan Moore, Simon Jenkins, London Eye architect Julia Barfield, LSE academic Tony Travers and AJ editorial director Paul Finch.

3rd

Simon Jenkins writes a comment piece in the Evening Standard arguing for high-density, low-rise housing as a substitute for the residential towers planned for the capital.

10th

Boris Johnson responds to Skyline by calling on developers to ‘build homes that will be loved and venerated in 50 or 100 years’.

26th

Deputy Mayor Edward Lister addresses AJ’s AJ100 breakfast club meeting and warns that the South Quay development area in the Isle of Dogs has no masterplan.

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