Through his latest letter to the Mayor of London, the Secretary of State (SoS) for Housing Communities and Local Government is encouraging him, and through him his constituent local planning authorities, not to relax Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land protections in the drive to achieve increased housing requirements.
The SoS is, in effect, reminding the planning authorities of London that one solution to protecting this land could be to look more favourably on tall development, which can optimise density and so take the pressure off other areas.
Thus, taller development in and associated with existing tall building groups or clusters should potentially get taller, albeit subject to the exacting criteria testing required to prove this kind of development at application stage but reinforced by the new tall building policy in the ‘Intended to Publish London Plan’.
Not only does this impact established clusters, but it also has implications for outer London boroughs that include the Green Belt or adjoin it.
Here the need to go taller – which in this context can mean anything over about eight or so floors over ground, indeed even less – is seen by some as a threat to the area’s suburban character and/or environmental assets (such as heritage).
There is nothing really in this statement to assist practitioners or our clients in how this tension between objectives should be resolved, but the implication must mean increasing density including through height on previously developed land in all locations.
"local areas are 'empowered to choose where tall buildings are built" and to give them "greater freedom' to allocate industrial land for residential use rather than use green belt sites."