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Experts warn of sub-standard skyscraper boom

The integrity of London’s skyline is being jeopardised by a poor planning system that is allowing sub-standard design with low grade materials, two leading structures experts have warned.

With no clear policy on tall buildings in the capital, developers are able to slip poor quality schemes through the net, they said at an event in London this week.

More than 230 towers are proposed for London over the next decade, and residential towers in particular are being rushed up, delegates at a London South Bank University event were told.

“We don’t have a tall buildings policy, we’ve got a kind of set of quite apologetic, technical aspirations, tied up in a piece of string who’s length is yet to be determined,” said World Architecture Festival programme director Paul Finch (pictured).

Former City of London chief planner Peter Rees added: “[Commercial buildings] are built in high quality materials because the developers want them to be cheap to maintain.

“The residential product which is going up is built quickly and cheaply. [Developers] might engage a good architect to do the first design but then they dumb it down in house, strip out all the good materials and build it as cheaply and quickly as possible.”

Strong leadership will be required to change the situation, the experts insisted.

“We need politicians who believe in planning,” said Rees

Finch added: “The policy should be saying quality quality quality, quasi public space at the top and beautiful ground plain at the bottom.”

Rees added that there should be more low rise buildings of up to eight storeys.

“Donuts round the edge of the site with nice green space in the middle people can look into,” he said. “There’s enough space and you get high density from it.”

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