Memorandum by Legal and General Property
Limited (TAB 13)
The role of tall buildings in achieving high densities
in residential areas
There is an important role to play for tall
buildings in achieving high density in residential areas. There
is a need to cater for the projected significant population growth
and to meet the country's substantial housing requirements in
a sustainable manner.
Although relatively untested in the UK, with
the exception of the 1960's tower blocks, other leading European
Cities have successfully achieved high density (including high
rise) residential development. It is important that high rise
residential developments are well located, well designed and managed
effectively in order to avoid the mistakes of the 1960s, but there
is no reason why this cannot be a successful solution to projected
This is particularly true in central locations
where residential land supply is restricted.
The provision for offices for certain types of
It is acknowledged that certain global companies
want to be located in tall buildings, particularly within London.
It follows that failure to meet these companies' requirements
will prejudice London's position as a world financial centre.
London needs new locations to cater for these
requirements in order to maintain choice for international companies.
Currently the only options for the development of tall buildings
are Canary Wharf and certain, limited, locations within the City
In addition to particular companies' requirements
there is also a general need to cater for projected significant
economic growth. To cater for this growth, the supply of flexible
and quality office space must increase. Dispersing London's global
commercial function is neither feasible in market terms nor acceptable
environmentally, therefore, increasing supply means higher density
development and thus, in some cases, tall buildings.
Good quality tall buildings are not damaging
to the heritage of a city. On the contrary, tall buildings can
make a positive contribution to a cities character and appearance.
A number of tall buildings have been listed as they are felt to
make a positive contribution (eg Centre Point and Millbank, London).
In certain circumstances tall buildings, as
landmarks, can provide an icon for the wider regeneration of an
area and encourage civic pride. An obvious example of this is
Canary Wharf and is evident in regional centres which are pursuing
tall buildings of their own.
Tall buildings should be located where they:
are well linked to good quality transport
infrastructure with existing capacity or capability of extra capacity
following improvements ensuring efficient use of existing investment
and minimal impact;
have a positive relationship with
other tall buildings where relevant;
do not detract from the existing
environment especially conservation areas, world heritage sites,
historic parks and gardens, other open spaces and important views;
can create a catalyst for wider regeneration.
There are very few impacts from tall buildings
that are not controlled through existing measures. All tall building
proposals would need to be assessed in the context of Development
Plan policies covering issues such as conservation, environmental
considerations, transport impacts etc. Additional restrictions
on the location of tall buildings are therefore not required.
It would be useful to identify strategic sites
and locations, suitable for tall buildings. A strategic development
framework guiding the development of those sites provided in the
relevant development plan, or in the case of London, in the London
Plan would be welcomed. This is in line with the promotion of
the use of Action Plans and Masterplans in the Government's Green
Strategic Views in London have not been reviewed
since they were first introduced in 1991.
We consider that there should be a thorough
review of Strategic Views and the Wider Setting Consultation Areas.
There should be a weeding out process to delete unnecessary long
views, followed by a careful examination of the remaining views
and the nature and extent of controls which apply, to assess what
is gained in terms of public amenity having regard to impact on
If, following this review, certain Strategic
Views are considered to be important, then they should be protected.
The location of tall buildings should be considered
on their merits, whether they be "clustered" or "dotted".
Mistakes in the 1960s were caused by poor construction
techniques; bad architectural and urban design and poor housing
Important lessons have been learned in all of
Whether those making decisions are sufficiently
accountable to the public
All Local Planning Authorities are accountable
to the public. All proposals for tall buildings should be decided
in the first instance at this local, accountable, level.
The process is currently being undermined by
unaccountable groups (eg English Heritage) regrettably by the
uncertainty of the powers of Central Government. We note that
the Green Paper encourages less call-ins and quicker decisions
but unfortunately provides no further clarity on its powers.
Whether the Government should have a more explicit
policy on the subject
No. As set out above, the location and provision
of tall buildings is for the most part a local or metropolitan
matter. Policy on the subject should therefore be in Local Plans
and Unitary Development Plans and in London, in the Mayor's London
Plan. National policy on this subject should not be required.