Design head slams sightline guidance

Guidelines aimed at protecting views of some of London's most historic buildings do not go far enough and could block some of them, Westminster planners warned this week.

Responding to London mayor Ken Livingstone's view management framework (Planning, 22 April, p1), Westminster City Council head of design and conservation Robert Ayton said: "We welcome the principle but do not feel it offers the protection that it could do. Also, it does not identify all the sites that are worthy of protection."

The council argued that the supplementary planning guidance makes no mention of existing tall buildings that already have a negative impact on views. "There should be a general presumption that existing tall buildings in viewing corridors should be demolished and replaced with lower buildings," it maintained.

Ayton said that existing guidance has been in place for ten years "and is working pretty well". But he added that the city council wants the view of St Paul's from the terrace of Somerset House and the view of the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey from the west added to the list of protected sightlines.

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