London's Mayor Boris Johnson has largely rejected the proposals by the Skyline campaign, organized by the Architects' Journal and the Observer, which aimed to introduce measures to allow more considered development in London, following the news that the UK's capital is currently going through its biggest building boom in recent memory.
The Architects' Journal reported on Friday that the mayor rejected proposals for a presumption against tall buildings submitted for planning permission, a review of over 200 tall buildings currently either proposed or being constructed, a more rigourous system of masterplanning, and an independent skyline commission to examine new proposals. However, he did support the idea of a city-wide 3D model containing both existing and proposed buildings, which would allow planning officers to make more informed decisions.
More on the issue, and a detailed look at the mayor's response to the proposals, after the break
However, Johnson's ruling on the Skyline Campaign's proposals comes at a somewhat ironic moment, as BD reported this morning that he has also decided to intervene in the current developments in London's Docklands, saying that he was "concerned that without an overall strategy for South Quay, the tall buildings proposed could have a detrimental impact on London’s skyline and the public realm," and that "too many tall buildings are being proposed without an overall vision for the area."
Also reported by BD this morning is a claim by Andrew Boff, a member of the London Assembly and one of Johnson's fellow Conservative party members, that the mayor should be stripped of his powers in the planning system. The statement was made in response to Friday's highly controversial approval of the Mount Pleasant scheme in North London, where locals attending the hearing booed the mayor and his planning team and claimed that he had "let London down."
"The mayor takes his decision on the basis of his officers’ reports and I am starting to take the view that those reports might be partial," said Boff. "They have housing targets to deliver and, just like in the 1960s, they are looking at numbers not the quality of the communities that are being built. I think they have been blinded to quality issues."
The proposals by the Skyline campaign and response from the mayor's office can be seen below:
- In response to the Skyline Campaign's proposal to "a presumption against tall buildings except where a strong positive case can be made for them," the mayor's office said: "It would be a huge mistake to have a presumption against tall building development and is something that we do not believe is justified. The Mayor is of the firm belief that appropriately located and well-designed tall buildings have a role to play in London’s development."
- Johnson also dismissed the need for an immediate review of all tall building proposals in the city, saying "The majority of London boroughs have up to date adopted plans that are supported by more detailed plans that cover in many instances tall building locations and their integration in their local context. These plans, like the London Plan, are under regular review."
- Likewise a call for more detailed and rigourous masterplanning in London was rejected, with Johnson adding "The Opportunity Area planning Frameworks strike the right balance between prescription and flexibility. Overly detailed plans are inherently brittle and immediately out of date."
- Finally, a call to develop an independent skyline commission was rejected, with Johnson claiming "The control of London’s skyline has to be democratically mandated. A panel of experts would represent narrow interests and would undermine local democratic process."
- However, the Mayor did support the proposal to introduce an interactive model which would include all the existing and proposed buildings across the whole city, which could be used to inform planning consent. The mayor's office said: "We have already procured a 3d model for large parts of London which we have used to asses tall building policy in key Opportunity Areas," adding that "we support the idea of providing London wide coverage, and we have shared the model with London Boroughs."