Memorandum by SAVE Britain's Heritage
(SAVE) (TAB 02(a))
TALL BUILDINGS IN LONDON (SAVE)
The Sky is not the Limit: The height
of towers in London is constrained by the flight paths into Heathrow
and London City airports. The Civil Aviation Authority has set
a limit of 1000 ft for buildings in central London. Any proposal
approved for buildings above that height will be referred to the
Secretary of State at the DETR as dangerous.
Hyde Park is not Central Park: The beauty
of the Royal Parks, admired around the world, is the sense of
rus in urbe, of apparently boundless countryside within the capital.
Though punctured in certain placed by the towers of the Hilton
and Royal Lancaster hotels and Knightsbridge barracks, the horizon
in many parts of the Royal Parks remains filled with trees, not
buildings, providing beauty, air, and space that all Londoners
can enjoy. This is a precious asset which must be protected, ideally
by seeking World Heritage status for the Royal Parks which they
Safeguard the protected views: Central
London has a limited number of protected views, several of them
from vantage points at the heights above the central plainfrom
Hampstead, Highgate and Greenwich. It has been suggested that
the dome of St. Paul's is insignificant from these viewsthis
is simply not true.
No license to print money: Any planning
permission to build a high rise tower in place of much lower buildings
increases the value of the site and constitutes a vast planning
gain. Developers who are given such permissions must be made to
make a permanent and substantial contribution to the public realm
in terms of amenity. In many cases tight sites make the creation
of outdoor space impossible (and piazzas are rarely desirable
beneath towers). The gain must be provided by public space and
amenities within the building at both lower and upper levels,
secured in such a way that the local authority is bound in law
to ensure public access is maintained.
Say where the towers should go: If London
is to have more high rise buildings, it is essential to identify
in advance a select number of sitesin the City and Canary
Wharf for example, where high rise building will be consideredto
prevent a rash of applications all over London which will have
a blighting effect on surrounding areas.
Uphold the protection of listed buildings:
there are a sufficient number of sites in the City and Docklands
where towers can be built without involving the demolition of
buildings of special historic and architectural interest.
Every Borough does not need a virility symbol:
There is a danger that London Boroughs, left to themselves, will
compete with each other in approving tower proposals. The greater
attraction of London as a World City is that it has so many exceptionally
pleasant and attractive residential areas, where people can live
in tranquil surroundings, with their own gardens, hardly conscious
that they are in a busy city. Great caution must be exercised
on any tower proposal overlooking a residential area, and wide
ranging consultation carried out.
Local Views: Towers can intrude on views
which are much valued by local peopleacross a local park,
square or green, or behind a church spire, or a well frequented
pub, as well as larger and more obvious landmarks.
Environmental Impact Studies: Every tower
proposed must be subject to an independent Environmental Impact
Study, commissioned at the developer's expense, but not edited
or censored by him. This must address the questions of viability,
shadowing and microclimate, especially downdraughts created by
around high-rise buildings. Every proposal should be subject to
rigorous wind tunnel tests to determine the impact on neighbouring
streets and open spaces.