Mayor of London defends planned residential towers following GLA debate

Out-Law News | 12 Jun 2014 | 4:15 pm | 1 min. read

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has defended the number of high-rise residential developments being constructed in the capital, following a debate at the Greater London Authority (GLA) planning committee.

Appearing at mayor's question time on 11 June, Johnson was asked to respond to a question from the chair of the GLA planning committee, Nicky Gavron, about whether his planning policies and decisions were "allowing London to become Dubai-on-Thames" and the suggestion that the tall buildings being built were not designed to meet London's housing needs.

"The homes in tall buildings are for Londoners", said Johnson, according to a report in the Estates Gazette.  " ... where we can we go low and dense.  We try to mimic the historic look and feel of London. But what we are trying to do is where there is scope to go higher and we can supply many homes, we think you should do so and those homes are overwhelmingly for Londoners."

"We are not allowing buildings to pepperpot London", continued Johnson. "They are happening in clusters where they are appropriate."

The question followed a GLA planning committee debate on 10 June into the impact of the growing number of tall buildings in London.

Speaking at the debate, Peter Rees, professor of places and city planning at University College London disputed "whether we are building homes at all", claiming that the "glitzy" high-rise developments were designed to appeal to foreign investors rather than to meet local housing needs.

Rees suggested that building towers was not necessary in order to increase housing density. "The highest-density residential area in London is Chelsea.  It doesn't have towers", said Rees. 

Tony Pidgley, chairman of developer Berkeley Group, said at the debate that people now aspired to live in towers and reported that 80 % of occupants responding to a survey about high-rise Berkeley schemes were happy to live there.