New London Architecture

Should we do tall at all? Tall Buildings Expert Panel discuss

Thursday 10 September 2020

Stuart Baillie

Stuart Baillie

Partner, Head of Planning, Knight Frank

The first meeting of the NLA Expert Panel for Tall Buildings brought together a world class group of experts from the fields of Architecture, Engineering and Town Planning with experience of designing, developing and regulating for tall buildings within London and the UK but also from around the globe.
 
Current challenges
 
The Panel met at a time where there are significant uncertainties for the development sector and particularly for tall buildings.  These uncertainties include Brexit, Covid-19, Regulatory Reform, the future of our town centres, changing office occupation trends and potentially changing attitudes towards urban living.  
 
Despite all of this uncertainty, development continues at relative pace in London and, according to the Panel’s own experience, there has been no significant drop off in the tall buildings design projects being commissioned or indeed in the volume of planning applications received by the Panel’s Local Authority representatives.  
 
Opportunity
 
The Panel quickly alighted on the question of “Should we do tall at all?”  The unanimous view was that London needs tall buildings and that there must be an advocate voice for tall buildings to create debate with the multiple groups that campaign against them.  This Panel has a role to play in supporting the NLA to be that advocate.
 
The Panel recognised of course that there are significant issues to address but also an opportunity for London to take the lead in developing high quality and sustainable tall buildings.  To do so London must draw upon its creative and technical expertise as well as harnessing emerging technologies and drawing upon the very best international case studies to address such issues as:
·      Energy performance and thermal structure
·      Sustainable materials and embodied carbon
·      Building maintenance and management costs
·      Safety
·      Social inclusion and user experience
·      Placemaking and public realm
 
The Panel also discussed the role of positive Planning and a concern that the Government’s planning reforms and reference to ‘gentle densification’ do not address the special context of London as a ‘global city’ and it will be important that this panel cross references with the Expert Panel for Planning to shape a response to the Planning White Paper consultation that also addresses planning for Tall Buildings in a London context.
 
Future focus
 
The future considerations of the Panel will focus on the following key topics:
  1. The perception of tall buildings in London;
  2. Maintenance, management and safety considerations for tall buildings;
  3. Land use and future flexibility of tall buildings;
  4. Habitation of and use of tall buildings; 
  5. Environmental impacts, environmental performance and cost of tall buildings
 
The Panel will also consider the scope and content of the NLA Tall Buildings Survey 2021.

Tall Buildings Expert Panel

Chair: Stuart Baillie, Partner, Head of Planning, Knight Frank
Jo Bacon, Partner, Allies and Morrison         
Tom Alexander, Director, Aukett Swanke      
Gwyn Richards, Interim Chief Planning Officer and Development Director, City of London Corporation          
Steve Kennard, Director of Regeneration, Hadley Property Group      
John Bushell, Design Principal, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)   
Stephanie Leung, Associate, LDA Design     
Emma Talbot, Director of Planning, London Borough of Lewisham
Michael Ritchie, Place Shaping Team Leader, London Borough of Tower Hamlets   
Gerard Maccreanor, Founding Partner, Director, Maccreanor Lavington Architects            
Matt Voyce, Executive Director – Construction, Quintain          
Russell Whitehead, Director, Robert Bird Group         
Dominic Bettison, Director, Wilkinson Eyre    
Ender Ozkan, Vice President - Europe, RWDI
View the programme


Stuart Baillie

Stuart Baillie

Partner, Head of Planning, Knight Frank


Tall Buildings

#NLATallBuildings

Programme Champion

Knight Frank

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