diamond geezer

 Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Why is there a cluster of tall buildings in the City of London?

It's partly because the City of London isn't averse to highrise development, but mainly because tall buildings are allowed to be built in some locations and not others.

For a full explanation you should read the 32 page planning document Tall Buildings in the City of London published in March 2019. I have, and I shall now oversimplify its contents for those of you with limited time. In short it's all about St Paul's Cathedral, but also to a lesser extent the Monument and the Tower of London.

For centuries the only tall buildings in the City were churches. In the 1930s the construction of a (gasp) 11 storey building caused consternation when it blocked views of St Paul's Cathedral from the Thames riverside. In response the City Corporation introduced a local view protection policy called the St Paul's Heights. This successfully kept highrise development at bay until the 1960s.

The St Paul's Heights plan was intended to protect local views of the cathedral from the South Bank, the Thames bridges (including Waterloo Bridge and London Bridge) and along certain key streets (such as Fleet Street). My map shows the affected area in orange. Views from the South Bank and bridges explain most of the large chunk nearest to the river, while three streets in Islington (Farringdon Road, Amwell Street and St John Street) account for the sector to the north. Maximum heights were calculated for individual grid squares across the entire zone (for example in the Smithfield area no building can exceed 52m). The St Paul's Heights plan remains in force.

In 1991 the government defined eight Strategic Views to protect sight of the dome of St Paul's Cathedral from more distant viewpoints. The eight chosen locations were:
» Greenwich Park and Blackheath Point in southeast London
» Primrose Hill, Parliament Hill, Kenwood and Alexandra Palace to the north
» Richmond Park and Westminster Pier to the southwest

The reason you can only see five sectors on the map, not eight, is that some of the corridors have merged before they reach the boundaries of the City.

Strategic Views were later devolved to the Mayor of London. In 2007 Ken Livingstone narrowed their width and renamed them Protected Vistas. In 2010 Boris Johnson widened them again as a compromise between the two previous widths. The London View Management Framework remains in force.

The Monument Views Policy Area protects and enhances views of and from the Monument. It includes the four street blocks surrounding the Monument, plus five protected views from the viewing gallery itself (towards the Tower, the Thames, London Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and St Paul's). It's shown above in green.

Meanwhile in yellow is an area to protect the silhouette of the Tower of London, specifically the White Tower, as seen from the opposite side of the Thames. World Heritage Site skylines must be preserved.

Lines of sight prohibit the construction of tall buildings in all of these areas - orange, red, green and yellow. But there's one more factor to take into account...

This is a map of the City's 27 Conservation Areas. The first was designated in 1971 and the most recent (the Golden Lane Estate and Barbican Estate) in 2018. Official policy is that the development of a tall building in a Conservation Area would be inappropriate, so no new ones are permitted. Light-coloured areas on the map show that the City isn't as chock-full with historic buildings as some might think - a lot is covered by generic demolishable office blocks.

Finally we can combine all of these maps together, as the City does, to create a map showing Areas inappropriate for tall buildings.

As you can see, most of the Square Mile has been blotted out leaving only a few areas suitable for highrise development. One is west of St Paul's around Fetter Lane. A larger patch spreads from London Wall down to Cheapside. A significant chunk is up north around Liverpool Street station. But the largest area of land available for tall buildings is to the east of Bishopsgate around Fenchurch Street and Leadenhall. This is where most of the whoppers have ended up, forming the so-called Eastern Cluster.

This final map shows the actual location of City buildings over 75m in height.

Light blue buildings precede 1970 - they're mostly churches. Red and yellow cover the rest of the 20th century, including the Barbican and Nat West Tower. Green brings us into the 2000s, including the Gherkin and the Broadgate Tower. Dark blue covers the last decade, confirming that construction has been speeding up recently. Empty circles show tall buildings under construction or not yet begun.

At present more than 60 City buildings exceed 75m in height and nine exceed 150m. Several more are on the drawing board. Most of the new batch are located inside an approximate triangle bounded by Liverpool Street station, Fenchurch Street station and Leadenhall Market. None are targeted for the western half of the City, nor anywhere near the river.

I've skated over all this, so if you're really interested you should read the full report. You may not like how high the City of London is climbing, nor how fast, but you can at least take comfort that tall buildings can't be built just anywhere... and we have St Paul's Cathedral to thank for that.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan24  Feb24  Mar24  Apr24  May24  Jun24
Jan23  Feb23  Mar23  Apr23  May23  Jun23  Jul23  Aug23  Sep23  Oct23  Nov23  Dec23
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22  Oct22  Nov22  Dec22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
our bow
ian visits
broken tv
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
the greenwich wire
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
London's waymarked walks
Inner London toilet map
20 years of blog series
The DG Tour of Britain
London's most...

read the archive
Jun24  May24
Apr24  Mar24  Feb24  Jan24
Dec23  Nov23  Oct23  Sep23
Aug23  Jul23  Jun23  May23
Apr23  Mar23  Feb23  Jan23
Dec22  Nov22  Oct22  Sep22
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2023 2022
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards