New polling – one of the most extensive surveys in years – by Policy Exchange has revealed widespread public concern about the impact tall buildings have had on the heritage, character and appearance of London.
An overwhelming majority (71%) believe tall buildings should not be allowed to interfere with historic views, with 70% believing they should fit in with their surroundings.
It shows that a considerable majority, 64%, believe that they have not be allowed an adequate say in the tall buildings planning process – and that they are entitled to one.
Policy Exchange recommends a call for a comprehensive new tall buildings policy for the capital, to be replicated in other affected UK cities like Norwich, Manchester and Liverpool.
In addition a new report published today by Policy Exchange, ‘Systemic Beauty Polling’, recommends The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities should consider out poll across diverse demographics to find out what the public thinks of new buildings, to deliver real community engagement in the UK planning system.
As part of Policy Exchange’s Building Beautiful Programme, which recommends changes to planning policy and practice to ensure the UK has both beautiful and diverse places to live and work, a survey of 1,859 people has revealed deep concern over tall buildings in the UK – with nearly half (48%) of the respondents believing that tall buildings should not be allowed in suburban areas.
The situation is particularly acute in (though by no means limited to) London. Hundreds of tall buildings have been built in London and other UK cities: last year alone, in the capital’s oldest area, the City of London, seven new skyscrapers were approved. These buildings have been largely justified by the assumption that the public was comfortable with their integration – which this latest polling shows to be conclusively false.
Commenting, architect and Head of Housing, Architecture and Urban Space, Ike Ijeh said:
“The expected publication of the Government’s strategy on Levelling up presents a real opportunity to deliver a far better degree of design quality in planning, development and placemaking – strongly advocated by the work of Policy Exchange’s ‘Place Matters’ programme.
“The results of this poll clearly show that the public believes we are building tall buildings in the wrong places, in the wrong way, and with insufficient design quality. Additionally planning authorities are missing the mark by a long margin andplanning policy is seemingly very much out of kilter with what the public actually wants.
“We need a new, coherent, comprehensive and consistent policy framework for tall buildings in our cities, one that consults and engages much more rigorously with the public. Such a policy would not seek to ban tall buildings but it would more sensitively and intelligently balance the competing needs of development, heritage and urban character.”
A new mechanism is today also set out, in a new Policy Exchange report ‘Systemic Beauty Polling’, for carrying out high quality community engagement in the planning system. The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities could conduct polling, to find out the public’s opinion on new buildings. These polls would be conducted after they were constructed, to allow appreciation of them in their real-world setting, rather than as part of a theoretical exercise.
Mr Ijeh added:
“Finding a way to hand the public greater power in having their say on the built environment could be a real win for the Government’s forthcoming paper and for communities across the country – we can and should be delivering the types of places to live and work that people actually want.”
Notes to Editors
1.Headline Poll Results
An overwhelming majority (71%) believe tall buildings should not be allowed to interfere with historic views.
An overwhelming majority (70%) believe tall buildings should fit in with their surroundings.
An overwhelming majority (65%) believe new tall buildings should not be permitted in historic areas.
An overwhelming majority (64%) believe they have not been allowed an adequate say in the tall buildings planning process and that they are entitled to one.
An overwhelming majority (56%) believe new planning regulations to more effectively control tall buildings should be introduced.
A relative majority (48%) believe tall buildings should not be allowed in suburban areas.
A relative majority (45%) believe tall buildings have damaged London’s historic character.
A relative majority (43%) believe tall buildings have made the view from Waterloo Bridge worse than it was 20 years ago.
A relative majority (41%) believe tall buildings have made London’s skyline worse.
For further details about how the public could be polled to find out its views on buildings can be found in the report ‘Systemic Beauty Polling’. [Insert hyperlink]
Policy Exchange Building Beautiful Programme can be found here.
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