The debate over the future of London‘s Skyline stepped up a gear on Tuesday, as the issue was taken up by the London Assembly’s Planning Committee in City Hall. The London Assembly is an elected watchdog which is tasked with examining the decisions and actions of London’s mayor, and is expected to apply pressure to mayor Boris Johnson over the issue of skyscrapers in the capital.
The committee heard from leading architectural figures in London including former RIBA president Sunand Prasad (of Penoyre & Prasad), English Heritage planning and conservation director for London Nigel Barker and former City planning officer Peter Rees.
More on the London Assembly debate after the break
The debate over the 230 tall buildings in the pipeline for the UK capital has been spurred by a joint initiative between the Architects’ Journal and the Observer. The London Assembly was expected to debate the issue in July or August, but the issue was brought forward after being discussed in a headline event at the London Festival of Architecture. ”The debate about the impact of tall buildings on London’s skyline has been rising as fast as the towers that increasingly dominate it,” commented Nicky Gavron, Chair of the Committee and a former Deputy Mayor of London.
Gavron was highly critical of the Mayor’s approach to the London skyline, saying “Boris is simply not listening to the growing consensus calling for him to look again at his policies and implementation. I’m disappointed that the Mayor failed to accept that his approach to tall buildings is lining the pockets of developers while doing little to help alleviate London’s housing crisis.”
Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor for business and enterprise, commented that his department is not currently involved in planning in the city, however he added that “we are having a discussion at the moment as to whether we should be involved in the planning debate and the debate on tall buildings.”
Deputy mayor for policy and planning Edward Lister attended, arguing that London’s planning system was successful, however the tide of opinion seemed increasingly against him as a majority of the leading figures involved “demanded planning rules around the building of towers were tightened.”