THE NSP PART 2: the Community has its say

Yesterday we published a Statement on Tall Building in Draft New Southwark Plan (NSP) that we had compiled from correspondence with Nick Dolezal, Chair of Southwark Planning Committee, which you can read here.

Here is perhaps the most important extract:

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.

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Well, Donnachadh McCarthy, an environmental author and campaigner, whose home in Camberwell was London's first carbon negative home. He has been campaigning on local environmental issues in Southwark since 1992, disagrees that there is no major change of direction or loosening of policy proposed. Quite the opposite – he asserts that this is factually untrue. The proof? The following policies from the current Southwark Plan:

5.114   In the wrong locations tall buildings can be overbearing and out of character. They also need very good access to public transport to support the numbers of people who live and work in them. For these reasons, the locations that could accommodate tall buildings are limited to the area around London Bridge Station east of Borough High Street, Elephant and Castle and the northern end of Blackfriars Road. The core part of Peckham, Canada Water and Aylesbury action areas could also be suitable for tall buildings as these areas also have good transport links and have large development opportunities. However, there are likely to be areas sensitive to tall buildings within all the above locations and we will work with the GLA, English Heritage and CABE to prepare detailed guidance for appropriate tall building locations, heights and design in planning documents covering each of these areas, taking into account characteristics that may make them sensitive to tall buildings, including heritage assets and wider historic context.

5.115   In other areas tall buildings are not appropriate because they are not very built up, do not have good public transport access, are covered by conservation areas or have other heritage asset implications.

Fact Box: Tall buildings are those which are higher than 30 metres (or 25 metres in the Thames Policy Area) and/or which significantly change the skyline. 30 metres is approximately the height of a 10 storey block of flats or a 7-10 storey office building. In areas which have a low scale character, any building that is significantly higher than surrounding buildings will be regarded as a tall building even if it is lower than 30 metres.

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Whilst this may not have as great an impact in areas where tall buildings are commonplace (ie in the north of the borough) it appears that it could have an impact in areas such as Camberwell and Peckham where there are currently few tall developments.

With recent events in Grenfall in mind, discussions around the scope and prevalence of tall buildings seem more important than ever.

The deadline for responses to the New Southwark Plan is July 7.

If you would like to read Donnachadh’s own submission to the consultation click here. The No Skyscrapers in Camberwell & Peckham action group’s main demand is that the plan includes assurances that no buildings will exclude 10 storeys outside of ‘Core Business Districts.’

To add your thoughts to the NSP consultation click here.

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

*We will put Donnachadh's assertions to Nick Dolezal for further comment and update this page with any response.

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