With land increasingly scarce, especially in London it is no wonder that developers are looking to build high-rise towers to deliver much needed housing.

However it is not as simple as just continuing to go up and clutter our skylines with unsightly structures.

As a result, Historic England has produced new guidance for tall buildings to ensure buildings complement each other whilst also taking into account their impact on the surrounding area.

Here is what you need to know according to Historic England.

Before submitting a planning application for your high-rise building it is important to liaise with your local planning authority (LPA) and other organisations such as Historic England to determine how the height, shape and visual bulk will impact the area whilst ensuring it is in keeping with its historic characteristics. For example a ten storey tower might not look out of place in a city centre but it would not necessarily work in a low rise housing estate.

It is important to note that planning will not automatically be approved for a tall building based on the fact there are existing tall buildings in the area and is instead based on high-quality design that meets the following criteria:

Criteria for tall buildings

  • Architectural quality
  • Sustainable design and construction
  • Credibility of the design
  • Contribution to public space and facilities
  • Consideration of the impact on the local environment (especially at ground level)
  • Provision of a well-designed inclusive environment

Here is a list of key documents that need to be submitted as part of the planning application for a tall building:

Documents required for tall buildings

  1. Design and Access Statement
  2. Heritage assessment
  3. Assessment of context (local and town- or city-wide)
  4. Assessment of cumulative impacts
  5. Environmental Impact Assessment

The design and access statement needs to be submitted alongside any proposal for a tall building to demonstrate high-quality design, determined by a positive effect on the following factors.

Factors affecting high-quality design of tall buildings

  • Topography
  • Character of place
  • Heritage assets and their settings
  • Height and scale of development (immediate, intermediate and town- or city-wide)
  • Urban grain and streetscape
  • Open spaces
  • Rivers and waterways
  • Important views including prospects and panoramas
  • Impact on the skyline

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) is used to work out the impact of the building on its surroundings, in particular in relation to sustainability and the environment.

Key factors to consider for environmental impact

  • Microclimate
  • Overshadowing
  • Night-time appearance
  • Light pollution
  • Vehicle movements
  • Local amenities
  • Pedestrian experience

For more information on the factors involved in approving design for tall buildings or to read the full advice why not visit the Historic England website.

By Anna Symington

Please Note: Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication. Any written guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant Building Regulations or applicable technical standards. However, for the most up to date LABC Warranty technical guidance please refer to your Risk Management Surveyor and the latest version of the LABC Warranty technical manual.

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