Can Londoners take back control of their city’s out-of-control skyline?

Ben Flatman

The rush for the skies has been handled in a way that severely limits the chances of a coherent tall buildings strategy

For centuries London’s height was constrained by the limitations of construction technology and fire-related regulations that meant no residential or commercial building should be taller than the longest fire ladder. But as height restrictions have been progressively relaxed since the Second World War, we’ve witnessed the rapid erosion of the city’s medium-rise character. This rush to tall buildings hasn’t been subject to any public vote or even any coherent consultation with London’s citizens.

As a young visitor to London in the late 1980s, I remember zipping through the Canary Wharf construction site on the new DLR. As with all building sites, the vast foundations conveyed a sense of excitement and promise at what was to come. And while the end result may not quite have hit all the architectural high notes, there seemed a lot of sense in putting London’s tall buildings way out east.

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