Latest news

New guidance on tall buildings published

Published: Thursday, 17th December 2015

Historic England has published revised guidance on the impact of tall buildings amid a surge in applications for new skyscrapers.

The Government’s statutory advisor on heritage issues said tall buildings should make a positive contribution to city life but warned they can also seriously harm places.

“England has seen many examples of tall buildings that have had a lasting, adverse impact on the historic environment”.

The reshaped guidance, last published in 2007, stressed the need to use local plans to assess which areas, if any, were appropriate for tall buildings.

“Tall buildings should reflect a positive, managed approach to development, rather than being the result of speculative applications for development.

“The advantages of including tall buildings policies in local plans include identifying the role and areas appropriate for tall buildings as part of an overall vision for a place and protecting the historic places that make an area special.”

The advice said: “A successful urban design framework identifies the roles and characters of different areas, including their historic interest such as scale and height, landmark buildings and their settings, including important local views and panoramas.”

Historic England has also emphasised the importance of considering internal and external public space “as part of a well-designed public realm. Consideration of the effect on the local environment is also important, such as overshadowing, light pollution and the micro-climate around the base of such buildings.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, warned: “There are many tall buildings being proposed at the moment, particularly in London, that could have a profound effect on the character of the place where people, work and live.

“London’s historic environment is one of our greatest assets, culturally, socially and economically. But it is at risk of being badly and irrevocably damaged.”

View the press release

Roger Milne