London needs protection to preserve its “special character”


Areas of London alongside the River Thames should be made into a designated conservation area to stop the building of more skyscrapers, according to a heritage organisation.

Campaign group Historic England will begin a public consultation next month to win backing for statutory protection to be given to the eight-mile stretch between Putney Bridge and Tower Bridge.

Planning permission to build more than 200 buildings each more than 20 storeys has been granted, with many having riverside locations.


In the most recent edition of Historic England’s Conservation Bulletin, Duncan Wilson, chief executive, wrote: “London has some great tall buildings. But it also has some which many acknowledge to have been mistakes, and very clumsily located.

“Some areas such as the south bank of the Thames in Vauxhall are – I would argue – already blighted by piecemeal highrise development.

“With over two hundred consented tall buildings in London in the pipeline, the face of the city is already set to change.

“Let’s seize the opportunity of the debate around the London Plan, take a long hard look at the future of London, and make sure we don’t mistakenly kill the goose that lays the golden egg – London’s special character.”

Large stretches of the Thames, including the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey, are already conservation areas, as well as World Heritage sites.

Wilson  added that the “number of active tower cranes’ in a city may be a sign of its economic vitality – but whether or not it is a measure of successful development ‘depends on what is being built and on the impact on the community around that building”.

The group has received support from Graham Morrison, a partner at Allies & Morrison, an architecture and urban planning firm.

He blamed Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s authority for supporting developments that “aggressively exploit” the river.

Morrison said: “It has allowed too many developments, planned perpendicularly to the waterway – like pigs to a trough, maximizing a financial return from every window but leaving the city fabric and the river with the hermetic stumps of their lower floors.”


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