Clear Planning Guidance: A Tall Order?

Recently there have been growing concern across Southwark’s communities about the amended references/policies about Tall Buildings in the Draft New Southwark Plan (highlighted in Southwark News amongst others). Well, we decided that it would be helpful to get some clarity around the issue so we got in touch with Nick Dolezal, Chair of Southwark’s Planning Committee, to clarify what these references ACTUALLY mean.

As a result we have put together a “Statement on Tall Building in Draft New Southwark Plan” from his responses which you can read below…

Statement on Tall Buildings in Draft New Southwark Plan (NSP)

Provided by Nick Dolezal (Chair of Planning Committe) via email 3rd July 2017.


We need to deliver new jobs and 2,736 new homes per year that meet the needs of households of different sizes on different incomes. Tall buildings are an appropriate typology to help assist our targets as they can optimise the use of smaller sites.

Current Draft NSP consultations and Draft Area Visions & Site Allocations

We are currently consulting on updated planning policies and area visions for all of Southwark’s neighbourhoods as part of the preparation of the NSP. This is a new development plan for our borough that will be adopted in 2018. An area vision sets out how our neighbourhoods will evolve over the life time of the plan and is an important part of the plan making process that we have to do.

We also need to identify locations in each neighbourhood where new jobs and homes may be located so we can plan to meet demand within our borough. Area visions recognise that some neighbourhoods may contain sites that are more appropriate for taller buildings than others. This appropriateness is based on public transport accessibility, the importance of the site’s location and the level of opportunity for new homes and jobs

The consultation period on the preferred option draft Area Visions and Site Allocations for the NSP, which is the second part of the preferred option draft of the plan, closes on 7 July 2017.

Change in the reference to Tall Buildings

The change to the Draft NSP reference to tall buildings is a refinement rather than a departure from our existing position in our adopted Southwark Plan, Core Strategy, our Area Action Plans and the London Plan. As such there is no major change of direction or loosening of policy proposed.

There is currently no ‘blanket ban’ on tall buildings across the borough; proposals are assessed against our adopted development plan.

Potential Taller Building locations

The tallest buildings will be located in our regeneration areas or major town centres. This is where the highest public transport accessibility levels and densities are located and where there is the greatest opportunity for new homes, jobs and infrastructure. This approach is consistent with our current plan.

Appropriate locations are:

· Bankside, Borough and London Bridge Opportunity Area;

· Elephant and Castle Opportunity Area;

· Canada Water Opportunity Area;

· Old Kent Road Opportunity Area;

· Aylesbury Action Area Core;

· Peckham and Nunhead Action Area Core/Town Centre;

· Camberwell Action Area Core; and

· Bermondsey Action Area Core.

Size and Scale

We recognise that that some locations are inappropriate for tall buildings. Our adopted planning policy framework sets out specific criteria that are required. These criteria demand that tall buildings are well designed, are located in the right place, are informed by the character and importance of a site’s location, that they preserve heritage, and offer tangible public benefits in accordance with our adopted policies.

For example, a tall building is significantly higher than surrounding buildings or their context. For example, a tall building could be 100 metres tall at London Bridge, but only 15 metres tall in Nunhead.

Additional criteria for Tall Buildings

The draft NSP proposes additional tall buildings criteria on top of those that are already in our current development plan. These new criteria include requirements for public benefit such as public and communal space.

Consultation, representation, etc.

All residents and businesses will continue to be able to make representations on any planning application through the statutory consultation process, as well as representations on the emerging New Southwark Plan policies, area visions and site allocations.

For a flavour of some of the potential developments that will be taking place in the coming years click here.

To add your thoughts to the NSP consultation click here.

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