Archive for August 20, 2009

Tall building policy – proposal

Author: Cyril Richert

In view of the consultation on the new Local Development Framework (LDF) and the Core Strategy document (which sets out the the Council’s vision on the development of the borough for the next 15 years – more explanation here), we are working with the Battersea, Wandsworth and Putney Societies to submit a global comment on the “tall” building policy.

As promised, we are displaying the following draft, and wish you to participate to the debate by leaving your view/comment (form at the bottom of the article).

The final document will be officially submitted at the end of the month of August.

Core Strategy

Wandsworth Borough Council

Subject: “Tall” buildings

The Wandsworth, Putney and Battersea Societies represent the northern half of the borough. We are responding to the Inspector’s concerns about Wandsworth Council’s “Tall” buildings policy IS3(d.

The Societies believe this policy to be fundamentally flawed and contradictory of other planning policies. We are opposed to it, and wish to see straightforward, clear statements of policy which determine a core strategy understood by the Council and prospective developers alike.

A synopsis of the Societies’ views are as follows.

“Tall” buildings, those significantly taller than their neighbourhood, must be considered in their urban context. Proposals for such buildings should not simply attempt to show that they do not harm matters of planning importance but that they contribute positively to the character, appearance and quality of the Borough and surrounding London hinterland.

“Tall” buildings must stand up too to scrutiny in terms of need, appropriate location, architectural quality in their own right and their contribution to urban design.

Wandsworth Borough is neither a city nor a commercial centre but largely urban and residential. We identify the following policy constraints by which Planning Permission for “Tall” buildings would be refused.

  • TB1 Conservation Areas where historic environmental considerations and character are of significance
  • TB2 Buffer zones to Conservation Areas where a building would have an adverse effect upon a view or setting or focal point within a Conservation Area
  • TB3 Transport where proposals are further than 400 metres from a major transport node and there is insufficient access to public transport
  • TB4 Residential where a proposal will be within or adjacent to a residential area and have an adverse impact on the public and private realm
  • TB5 Views and Open Spaces where a proposal will have an adverse effect (a) locally and (b) in a wider London context upon open spaces, views, historic buildings and their settings.

Along with the above specific planning issues, the following matters which arise from the gist of Wandsworth Council’s “Tall” buildings policy and our knowledge and experience of the Council’s aims for the future of the Borough, also need consideration when drawing up a policy for “Tall” Buildings.

  • ‘Landmark’, ‘signature’, ‘iconic’ or similarly described buildings should not be encouraged for their own sake, except in areas clearly identifiable as having opportunity and not in conflict with 1-5 above.
  • Economics (aka Regeneration) should not be a planning factor determining the future of a site including such issues as site purchase costs.

Further consideration should also be given to sustainability issues for any building but especially for “Tall” buildings. Any “Tall” building must prove to be sustainable in terms, for example, of its negative carbon footprint, judged by construction, maintenance, services infrastructure, traffic and transport over its lifetimLastly, the Societies are most concerned that:

i) should individual boroughs adopt ad hoc strategic policies about “Tall” buildings, their impact could be far reaching, leading inevitably to an insidious, thin spread across London’s suburbs of individual tall buildings or loose clusters of them as one locality mimics another, raising the built skyline;

ii) that policies on Conservation Areas and the protection of Listed Buildings and their settings, townscape and the wider built environment should be reinforced. Whilst existing policies are sound and currently supported by Governments strategic objectives in PPG’s, they can be disregarded without arguments for doing so being subject to vigorous analysis.

That is why, the Wandsworth, Putney and Battersea Societies require clear constraints to restrict “Tall” buildings as has been presented.

You will find other articles on the core strategy debate on the website:


August 20, 2009 at 8:00 am 12 comments

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