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All schemes in Square Mile to include ‘urban greening’ under new 20-year plan

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Every new development in the City of London will have to include ‘urban greening’ under proposals laid out in a draft 20-year blueprint for the Square Mile

Earlier this week the City of London Corporation’s planning and transportation committee agreed to go to public consultation on its City Plan 2036, which also includes the previously trailed expansion of its tall buildings cluster (see AJ 06.07.16).

It will the first time a policy on urban greening has been explicitly set out in the corporation’s local plan.

The draft document reads: ’All new developments and refurbishments will be required to include a greening element to the building or public realm to contribute to improving biodiversity, rainwater run-off, air and noise pollution, temperature regulation, and making the City a more visually desirable business location.’

Ken Shuttleworth, whose practice Make had given its views on greening the city ahead of the draft plans launch, said: ‘We are all used to Local Area Plans with their carefully worded ambitions, but in this instance we think the City of London is going further than ever before to try and transform the environment of the city and benefit wellbeing of those who live and work there.

‘It is to be welcomed, although in light of the recent IPCC report, does it go far enough?

He added: ’We were asked by the City to undertake a comprehensive study on developing the Urban Greening Factor. Following the results of this, the City has weighted the traditional Urban Greening Factor assessment method to encourage certain categories of greening which will deliver significant benefits in the City, particularly tree planting, good-quality green roofs (of adequate soil depth) and green walls.

’This will require developments to promote perceived and physical improvement to the public realm and streetscape and will require a shift in approach to design which is appropriate and healthy.’

The City Plan 2036 also set out how the existing Eastern cluster of skyscrapers should ’grow to close the gap between the isolated Walkie Talkie and the rest of the cluster of towers’.

Filling the gap between the 155m-tall tower at 20 Fenchurch Street and the City’s other main skyscrapers has been talked about for some time.

In 2016 Gwyn Richards, head of design at the corporation, told the AJ that the work was taking place as part of a drive to investigate where new space can be found to meet the demand for new office space, adding: ’One issue that has been brought to our attention is whether it would be preferable to have the Walkie Talkie effectively moved into the cluster so that it is less assertive.

‘We are hearing from stakeholders saying that it would benefit the cluster to bring it into a tightly knitted group. The intention that 20 Fenchurch Street should provide a standalone vantage point over the cluster is not widely accepted.’

Cluster expansion map zoomed

Cluster expansion map zoomed

Could more towers be built south [area shown in red] of the existing City cluster?

The City’s draft plan is also encouraging a greater shift towards more flexible floorspace which can meet the ’demands of different types of business occupiers, enabling more incubators, start-ups and other small and medium-sized companies to set-up here’.

The document also outlines a drive for more emphasis on ’pavement space and the prioritisation of pedestrians’ in new developments, singling out the route through Foster + Partners’ Stirling Prize-winning Bloomberg HQ and the the areas around the base of Eric Parry’s yet-to-be built 1 Undershaft tower as exemplars of good practice.

In addition, the proposed plan sets out seven key ‘areas of change’ (see below) which the the City is promoting for ’continued sustainable growth’, including making Liverpool Street a major shopping centre (see AJ 17.10.18). 

Speaking about the draft guidance, Chris Hayward, the planning and transportation committee chairman at the City of London Corporation said: ’With 150 days to go until Britain officially leaves the EU, it is more important than ever to future-proof the City for the next generation of workers, residents and visitors.

‘More than ever we are seeing that businesses are making location decisions based on the quality of the buildings, local amenities and public realm that they can offer their employees.’

Consultation on the emerging City Plan 2036 runs until the end of February 2019.

Cluster expansion map london

Cluster expansion map london

City Plan 2036: Seven key areas of change

Liverpool Street area will be a thriving retail environment. Significant enhancements at Broadgate, with plans that when combined with 100 Liverpool Street, would match the current retail offer at 1 New Change on the City’s ‘high-street’.

Smithfield and Barbican ‘Culture Mile’ plans include the relocation of the Museum of London to West Smithfield, and the proposed Centre for Music alongside the existing Barbican Centre. Beech Street will be transformed into a cleaner and more welcoming food and retail environment.

The Eastern City Cluster will grow to close the gap between the isolated Walkie Talkie and the rest of the cluster of towers, while introducing more animated ground floor spaces such as the recently completed £50 million investment by the Tower 42 estate, in a new retail boulevard called The Avenue. Changes will also include pedestrian priority areas, a push for off-site consolidation and the re-timing of freight and deliveries outside of peak hours.

Blackfriars. Redevelopment of the post-war sites at Blackfriars provides scope to enhance surroundings including improved access to the enhanced riverside walkway. A large new open space will be provided by the key infrastructure project, Thames Tideway Tunnel.

The Pool of London is an iconic part of the City’s riverside where regeneration plans will boost its attractiveness and vibrancy. Use of the River Thames will also increase significantly if new riverside infrastructure enables it to become a major corridor for the movement of people and the transport of materials.

Aldgate and Tower Gateway. The newly redeveloped Aldgate Square will be the focal point between Aldgate and Tower Gateway with plans for better cycling facilities, pedestrian connections and public transport capacity in the area.

Fleet Street Thirty years after newspapers moved out, large 1980s office buildings are reaching the end of their leases, with Deloitte and Freshfields moving elsewhere in the City. Alongside a potential new judicial centre, recent creative arrivals such as Framestore and Saatchi and Saatchi, and the proximity to the new Thameslink service and upcoming Elizabeth line, provide an opportunity to refresh the area and property market.

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