The capital’s next mayor should be empowered to demand that particular new buildings are constructed in a way that maximises their security from terror attacks, a senior aide to Boris Johnson has said
However the comments have drawn concern from architects, who argue that fortified buildings are not the solution to the threat of extremism.
London’s deputy mayor for policing and crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, said power to demand a higher level of security for some new public buildings and spaces should be devolved to the capial’s mayor.
Writing in the Evening Standard, Greenhalgh said suspected terrorists were being arrested ‘at the alarming rate of one a day’, and that London’s mayor needed to be able to exercise greater control over the security of what was built in the capital.
‘The mayor already holds the planning powers for major developments and is responsible for improving London’s public transport network,’ he said.
‘He also needs the power to bring in experts to advise on the security of new developments and the ability to co-ordinate plans to better withstand terror attacks.’
Greenhalgh singled out the Herzog & de Meuron-penned plans to expand Chelsea FC’s stadium as a situation in which the new mayoral powers could be used - seemingly suggesting that its security measures left room for improvement.
He said: ’Chelsea FC plan to build a new 60,000-seater stadium on their Stamford Bridge site in the heart of Fulham, increasing capacity by nearly 50 per cent.
’A good design could make this new stadium considerably safer.’
Greenhalgh said his architecture-related proposals were part of a wider need to devolve responsibility for tackling extremism to the London Mayor.
However, past president of RIBA Angela Brady warned that seeking to make all new buildings blast-resistant would be the wrong approach.
’Good urban design can to some extent protect certain open public spaces and the people using them, but the cost of trying to protect buildings by making them bomb proof is difficult and expensive and maybe futile as there are so many,’ she said. ‘Where would one begin and end?
‘Building on awareness is probably better, as a safe city is one that is enjoyed by all without an obvious over-protected built environment.’
Architect Barbara Weiss agreed, but accepted that future London mayors should have an overall vision for the capital’s built environment that included public protection.
‘Safety and the sense of safety are essential in a city of the scale and population size of London, to allow people not only to use it, but also to enjoy it,’ she said.
‘In these traumatic days of increased terrorist attacks, it is inevitable that everyone feels vulnerable, particularly in very busy places.
‘While politicians must attack the fundamental roots of the problems, safety by design must also be considered, but not to the point that we end up living in a fortified city that denies the joy of urban living.’
The AJ asked Herzog & de Meuron for its response to Greenhalgh’s comments. It referred the request to its client.
The club declined to comment.
Herzog and de Meuron’s proposals for Chelsea FC