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Heritage Champions' Open Letter on Tall Buildings

Our great capital city is a source of national pride and a trademark for Britain throughout the world. Its extraordinary vibrant dynamism reflects a cocktail which includes political stability, security, geography, language, diversity, climate, infrastructure, creativity, entrepreneurialism and, never to be underrated, its unique beauty.

The next Mayor's legacy will be judged by his or her contribution to London's continuing success. Given the current pressing requirement for new buildings to accommodate a rising population and a growing economy, a critical part of that judgement will be based on how he or she has promoted excellence in innovation and design whilst respecting treasured historic landscapes and settings.

There are now more than 400 tall buildings (of 20 storeys plus) in the pipeline for London. There is at present no strategic, pan-city plan for their location or design. Proposed developments are often promoted at random, and marketed to the public using idealised imagery. They lack proper analysis of any impact on existing views or settings for miles around. The planning approval process has, as a result, become somewhat chaotic and there is widespread confusion as to how those with an opinion can make their views heard.

Tall buildings that soar in the right places can make exciting contributions to London's environment and growth. It is vital, however, to provide a clear strategy in the forthcoming London Plan showing where they are acceptable and where not. We welcome the London Assembly's recent call for better master planning and a fully developed, publicly accessible, 3D model of London's future skyline. The next Mayor alone can coordinate the necessary effort to protect and enhance London's historic fabric and its priceless beauty, whilst promoting the city's continuing progress.

Sir Laurie Magnus, Chairman of Historic England
Dr Loyd Grossman CBE, Chairman of the Heritage Alliance
Sir Terry Farrell, CBE, Architect

5 April 2016

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