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Calls for clear strategy for London’s skyline

London skyline

Conservation watchdog Historic England has called for a clear strategy and wider public consultation on the development of tall buildings in London.

The call comes as a new YouGov poll revealed that nearly half of Londoners (48%) think the 430 tall buildings planned for the capital will have a negative impact on the skyline. According to the figures, just 34% think the buildings would have a positive impact, while 58% were unsure of how to submit comments on planning proposals in their local area.

The poll also showed that 60% would like to have a say on tall buildings if they are proposed for a historically significant area in London. Currently, usually only those in immediate surrounding areas are consulted on proposals for buildings that may affect views and settings for miles.

Historic England has said that the limits on who is consulted on proposals for tall buildings – defined as 20 storeys or more – should be reviewed and a pan-London approach to skyline issues implemented.

Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson said: “Londoners know how special their city is and they know that the future of our capital hangs in the balance. Tall buildings can make an excellent contribution to city life if they are well-placed and well-designed. But in the wrong places, they can do serious harm. It matters when tall buildings overshadow our crescents and squares, our playgrounds and palaces, canals and cathedrals.

“Today, Londoners have shown that they want to have more of a say over how London’s future skyline is developed. The millions of people who live and work in the city want to be better informed and more involved in the changes that are gathering pace.”

In light of the YouGov figures, Heritage Alliance chairman Loyd Grossman, Historic England chairman Sir Laurie Magnus and architect Sir Terry Farrell have released an open letter urging the next London mayor to implement a clear strategy on tall buildings.

“The next mayor’s legacy will be judged by his or her contribution to London’s continuing success. Given the current pressing requirement for new buildings to accommodate a rising population and a growing economy, a critical part of that judgement will be based on how he or she has promoted excellence in innovation and design whilst respecting treasured historic landscapes and settings,” the letter said.

Grossman, Magnus and Farrell also outlined their support for the London Assembly’s recent call for better masterplanning and a fully developed, accessible 3D model of the city that enables the public to better understand the way London’s skyline is developing.

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