St. Paul’s Cathedral: Some things should Never Change
St. Paul’s Cathedral is widely recognized as a national symbol standing in the highest point and centre of the cithy’s financial district. This Icon defines the heights and skyline views of the city of London in order to prevent new constructions or structures from interfering with its protected views- but have all buildings complied with these regulations?
To be simply understood the Heights or Protected Vistas are a set of regulations, which limit building’s heights in order to protect St. Paul’s views and immediate vicinity. Where two policies are in conflict, the most restrictive one should prevail.
The materiality and architectural form of any new constructions has to respect the historic significance of the Cathedral and its settings. New projects are providing creative design solutions to aid in the promotion of a better-articulated and interesting roof scape to counteract the strict regulations and policies in place.
In the City Culture and Heritage chapter of the City of London LDF Core Strategy 2011, it is stated that some policies are to have a greater influence on the ‘bulk and massing’ of new developments over the height limitations regulations. But, on the 2012 LVMF it is clearly stated that any proposal, which is not consistent with the heights policies, is to be refused.
Some zig-zag their way through the policies, such as the Cheese Grater with its inclined façade.
However, the overlapping of regulations enables the creation of the bureaucratic maize in which one can easily bend rules as desired, and someone certainly has.
On Shoe Lane, the already underway demolition of several buildings is to give place to the new 10-storey high headquarters of the American Multinational banking Frim, Goldman Sachs.
Heights vary from 55m to 66m on its south corner exceed by 12m to 23m the permitted height, bluntly and unapologetically surpass the development threshold plane of three of the protected views: Primrose, Greenwich Park and Black heath Point.
Solely the Camden Council raised an objection to its construction during its planning application, stating that ‘there were not sufficient public benefits to outweigh harm caused to the setting of St. Paul’s Cathedral’. The remaining councils contacted did not share the same concern, as the building would only interfere with the backdrop view of their boroughs.
Permission was granted by officers based on visualizations submitted that it would ‘not harm the setting of the neighbouring listed buildings or adversely affect the character of the surrounding conservation areas’ – though it was only in 2013 that a discussion on effects of renders rose, and it was argued that such images would wrongly lead the clients and the general public into having an unrealistic idea of what would be built.
The current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has described his predecessor as being too ‘passive’ in regards to tall buildings and is to revise the London Plan. An alteration to the Heights is due to be made, as the preservation of London’s historic vistas seems to be challenged and ignored even more often, but will the new regulations allow for more skyscrapers to slip through bureaucratic loopholes?
(You will probably find it difficult to locate St. Paul in the most recent skyline of London, right picture)
Or will St. Paul’s remain as London’s focal point but solely to become a privatized view for the new comers?
If buildings to come must to be in accordance with the London Plan, will the infringing existing ones be forced to be demolished in order to comply with the Plan?
Iara Silva/Jose Aizcorbe