Should there be a pan-London tall buildings strategy, as proposed by the Skyline Campaign, including a 3D interactive model? Who should pay for and maintain it?
The Mayor is determined to work closer than ever before with the London boroughs to ensure a strategic approach to the positioning of tall buildings in London. A 3D model has already been developed for large parts of London, which we have used to assess tall building policy in key Opportunity Areas. This has provided a useful tool for engaging with local communities on the potential impacts of tall buildings, as well as proving a useful tool for negotiating with developers.
Broadly, how do you think tall buildings can or will fit into your vision for the new London Plan?
There is no doubt that tall buildings that are well-designed and in keeping with their local settings do have a role in London. The new London Plan, will include stronger policies to ensure new tall buildings respect the character of existing neighborhoods and explores how we can increase density to build more homes for Londoners.
In the current London Plan draft out for review, there are quite a few controlling descriptions of buildings that are qualitative rather than quantitative. How will words like “attractive” or “interesting” be enforceable when future applications come before the Mayor?
Planning decisions have always involved assessing the qualitative as well as the quantitative aspects of a development. However, the new London Plan places greater importance on design quality than the current Plan. Policy D2 details how good design can be delivered, and this will help the implementation of other policies, including on tall buildings.
Do you expect that the Fire Safety policy guidelines will be updated or changed pending the outcome of the Grenfell Tower inquiry? Would the deadline for consideration of the London Plan be pushed back if new information should emerge from the Grenfell case?
No, the London Plan timetable will not be pushed back, as this would risk the whole Plan not being adopted in this Mayoralty. There is always a changing landscape of Government policy and other factors, and we can deal with these changes through an Examination in Public or an alteration to the adopted plan, if necessary.
But please be assured that Policy D11 requires that development proposals must meet the absolute highest standards of fire safety. They do not state how this should be achieved or specify construction methods, products or materials. But developers would be expected to justify their choices and how their proposals satisfy the very highest standards.
Proposals should therefore take into account information which may emerge following the public inquiry or the independent review of the building regulations, or any future changes to standards or regulations.
It seems that final discretion on tall building height and location is devolved to individual boroughs. Is this is a change of practice? How does the issue of one local borough making a decision that affects a city-wide dimension, such as view corridors, get resolved?
The current policies require boroughs to determine where tall buildings may be appropriate. The new policy is clearer that boroughs need to identify areas where tall buildings are acceptable in principle through the plan-making process. When identifying these locations, boroughs will need to assess the impact of other policies in the Plan – such as those on strategic views – and ensure there is no conflict.