St Paul's iconic dome dominated the skyline of London unchallenged for 250 years. Even when the Millbank Tower surpassed its 112m in the 1960s, planners were concerned to ensure that the historic cathedral should never disappear among a forest of brash skyscrapers.
Modern developers wishing to build in or close to the City face two different sets of restrictions.
Government planning guidance requires local authorities to protect and enhance the 'strategic' views and the setting of St Paul's Cathedral by putting a maximum height on development in the view corridors. The strategic views are from Greenwich Park, Blackheath Point, Alexandra Palace, Kenwood, Parliament Hill, Primrose Hill, Westminster Pier and King Henry's Mound in Richmond Park.
The corporation protects the strategic views within the City and liaises with other local authorities as strategic view protection depends on the cooperation of several planning authorities along the sightlines In addition, since 1938, views of St Paul's Cathedral have been protected by a code known as St Paul's Heights which was devised to preserve views of the dome, western towers and, in order to retain a sense of the entire length of the Cathedral from the south, the main entablature. It operates by defining a series of included planes between the viewpoints and the cathedral, which form a ceiling through which no building can be allowed to rise if the views are to be preserved.
These inclined planes are expressed as a grid of maximum building spot heights. There is also a series of set back lines that protect the immediate setting of the cathedral and local views along certain streets leading up to it.
Details of the St Paul's Heights requirements can be found on www. cityoflondon. gov. uk. directory