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London Assembly demands ‘new and improved’ tall building policy

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All high-rise residential schemes in London must be tested against alternative forms of development which achieve the same goals and densities, the cross-party planning committee of the London Assembly has said

In a major boost for the Skyline Campaign, the committee yesterday wrote to mayor Boris Johnson to demand ‘new and improved’ policies to regulate tall buildings in the capital.

In her letter to Johnson, committee chair Nicky Gavron wrote: ‘When you announced your revised housing strategy, in 2013, you went on record as saying that “we’ve got to build 42,000 new houses every year, but it won’t mean towers are ‘popping up all over London”. 

‘However, an increasing number of proposals for tall buildings are being submitted to you for approval.  It is estimated that around 600 strategic applications for tall buildings have been referred to you since 2008.

‘Tall buildings can make a positive contribution to city life and the skyline, but only if they’re in the right places, meet the right needs, and interact well with the character and identity of the immediate and surrounding area.’

Following the launch of the campaign - championed last year by AJ and the Observer - the committee met last June and heard from experts including Bartlett professor Peter Rees and former RIBA president Sunand Prasad.

Gavron said such experts had concluded that ‘London runs the risk that the cumulative impact of these developments is going to have an irreversible negative impact on the city.’

She said that the committee backed the wider London Assembly’s unanimous call last November for new key policies including the ‘crucial’ demand - first made by Prasad - that ‘alternatives to building upwards need to be presented before a final design approach is given permission.’

Co-founder of the Skyline Campaign Barbara Weiss said: ‘This is exactly what we have been asking for.

‘We are obviously delighted that there is more and more organised dissent and that our points are being taken hugely seriously by very senior people.’

The Mayor of London has been contacted for comment.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Congratulations to the London Assembly on reflecting the views of its citizens. Let's all hope the Mayor of London will respond similarly to the views of Londoners. More Light More Power continues to campaign for a sustainable outcome on the Bishopsgate Goodsyard, by promoting an alternative viable and low-rise scheme: www.morelightmorepower.co.uk

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