London skyline © Historic England
London skyline © Historic England
London skyline © Historic England

Londoners Want A Say On Their Skyline

  • Heritage champions call for clear strategy on tall buildings from next mayor
  • New poll reveals that almost half of Londoners (48%) think the 430 proposed new towers for London would have a negative impact on the city’s skyline, while 34% think they would have a positive impact
  • More than half of Londoners (58%) don’t know how to have a say over planning proposals in their local area 
  • 60% say they would like a say over tall buildings if they are proposed for a historically significant  area in London
  • Historic England calls for broader consultation on the skyline

A new YouGov poll has revealed that nearly half of Londoners (48%) think the 430 tall buildings planned for the capital will have a negative impact on the skyline, compared to the 34% who think they will have a positive impact, but more than half do not know how to make their voice heard.

The figures were released as Loyd Grossman, Chairman of the Heritage Alliance, Sir Laurie Magnus, Chairman of Historic England and renowned architect Sir Terry Farrell wrote an open letter calling for a clearer strategy on tall buildings for London.

When asked which planning applications they would like to be consulted on, 60% believed people across the city should have a say if a tall building is proposed in a historically important place. But currently it is usually only those in immediate surrounding areas who are consulted on proposals for buildings that may be so tall they affect views and settings for miles around.

Today Historic England has said that limits around who is consulted on tall building proposals, defined as 20 storeys or more, need to be reviewed and a pan-London approach to skyline issues is needed. Every planning application is open to comment but over half of respondents (58%) said they do not know how to go about it.

A pan-London approach is needed

Historic England is calling for wider public involvement in the way London develops, in the run-up to the next London Plan, so Londoners are better informed about the changes gathering pace in the city. The call comes following the recent announcement that there are now over 430 tall buildings planned for the capital.

In their open letter, the three signatories said that proposed developments are often marketed to the public using idealised imagery. They also said they support the London Assembly's recent call for better masterplanning and a fully-developed, accessible 3D model of the city that enables people to better understand the way London’s precious skyline is developing.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said:
“Londoners know how special their city is, and they know that the future of our capital hangs in the balance. Tall buildings can make an excellent contribution to city life if they are well-placed and well-designed. But in the wrong places, they can do serious harm. It matters when tall buildings overshadow our crescents and squares, our playgrounds and palaces, canals and cathedrals.

"Today, Londoners have shown that they want to have more of a say over how London’s future skyline is developed. The millions of people who live and work in the city want to be better informed and more involved in the changes that are gathering pace.”

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,011 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd - 24th March 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all London adults (aged 18+).