Monday, 17 January 2011

The Shard of Glass

As construction continues on ‘The Shard of Glass’, critics claim that their worst fears have been realised. The 310 metre tower, they say, is rapidly becoming a blot on the urban landscape. Their particular concern is the impact the new building is having on views across London.

London has a framework of six protected views from elevated areas in parks to both St Paul’s Cathedral and the Palace of Westminster. This means that there is a legal requirement within urban planning to preserve these views by limiting the height of new buildings within or adjacent to a particular sightline. This legislation is designed to preserve particular landmarks as the focus of a view. The protection may also cover the area behind the place or building concerned.

English Heritage claims that the protected view of St Paul’s from Parliament Hill has been compromised. While the new building lies behind St Paul’s, they argue, the iconic silhouette of the dome has been lost. This was exactly the concern raised by English Heritage during the public enquiry regarding proposals to build The Shard.

Other commentators are more positive about The Shard and welcome it as an exciting addition to the skyline of a dynamic ‘living’ city. They are confident that it will very quickly become an iconic and popular feature in its own right.

Whichever side of the argument you favour, the debate is certain to continue.

Read more about the UK’s protected views:
FIND’s Protected Views Report
FIND’s Protected Views hazard map
RICS article on protected views

Previous protected view blogs:
Boris' new protected views for central London
Video guide to protected views for surveyors

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