New guidance on tall buildings published

As cities and their skyline evolve upwards, it is vital that tall buildings are properly planned and that proposals are informed by a clear long-term vision. To support planners, developers, architects and local authorities in evaluating proposals for tall buildings, CABE and English Heritage today publish their updated guidance on tall buildings.

The updated document is endorsed by government departments CLG and DCMS and is capable of being a material consideration in the determination of planning applications. Guidance on tall buildings supports a pro-active approach to planning for tall buildings in our cities and emphasises the need for environmentally sustainable, high-quality design. The document has been updated in line with changes in the planning system and Government planning guidance. The new Guidance on tall buildings received wide support from a range of organisations and interests during its period of public consultation.

'By their nature tall buildings have an impact on their context that is far wider than most other types of building,' says CABE Chief executive Richard Simmons. 'It is essential that they are planned well, designed well and meet the highest standards in terms of sustainability.'

Key points of the updated guidance:
  • Supporting a plan-led approach. The updated document reinforces the latest government planning guidance which advocates pro-active spatial planning. This will mean less ad-hoc decision-making, more clarity for developers and excellent tall buildings in the right places
  • Exemplary standards required in sustainable design. The Guidance on tall buildings now advocates that tall buildings set exemplary standards in sustainable design and construction. For the first time, the document calls for proposals to exceed the latest regulations for minimising energy and reducing carbon emissions over the lifetime of the development.
  • Change in outline consent. CABE and English Heritage now accept that in exceptional circumstances, the principle of a tall building may be acceptable at outline planning consent as part of a robust and credible long term masterplan (such as regenerating the large King's Cross site and the Olympics site in East London), provided it is subject to Environmental Impact Assessment.
  • World Heritage Site protection is clarified. The Guidance reflects the obligation for World Heritage Sites to have management plans, which will ideally include a policy framework to define and protect the local setting. Tall buildings must address their effect on World Heritage Sites as part of the wider historic context

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