TALL BUILDINGS 01/02/08
The subject of tall buildings is currently topical. The Mayor of London has endorsed the concept on sites well served with public transport. Thus it would appear that while the economic window of opportunity is open, the skyline of our major cities may fundamentally change. Already in central London six towers of over 40 storeys have been given the go ahead by the City Corporation, and several further companions to the Canary Wharf Tower are in advanced stages of construction in Tower Hamlets. While these projects begin to set precedents, the London Authorities including the Greater London Authority, Government Office for London; and the national consultees such as English Heritage and The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment are all providing some means of control and guidance. While Westminster City Council has made its view plain with a firm 'NO', Southwark Borough Council is keen to rise to the challenge. The City Corporation seems ready to accept proposals of high quality design. Yet there is evidence that insufficient attention is being paid to the wider visual effects of high buildings on the skyline and townscape. Some seem to believe that if your site is outside a conservation area and not in a Strategic View Cone, you can go high. Good townscape practice, preservation of familiar skylines and the protection of treasured urban and parkland spaces must however set the controls. There is a need for a PPG note on high buildings which: establishes the justification for need; tests the urban setting; and looks carefully at the effect on the public realm; as well as assessing numerous environmental effects; and the transportation implications.
The Richard Coleman Consultancy has advised on a number of high buildings proposals in London and other cities, and has developed a speedy urban intrusion assessment procedure for any site and its potential for high buildings.