Glossary

    Supplementary Planning Document (SPD):

    A Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) is a document that adds further detail to the policies already contained within a Local Plan. They can be used to provide further guidance for development on specific sites, or on particular issues, such as design. Supplementary planning documents are capable of being a material consideration in planning decisions but are not part of the development plan. 

    Local Plan:

    A Local Plan is a plan that is prepared by the Local Planning Authority which sets out how the local area will be developed in the future. The plan guides decisions on whether or not planning applications can be granted. 

    The Tower Hamlets Local Plan 2031: Managing Growth and Sharing Benefits was adopted by Full Council on 15 January 2020. You can access the Tower Hamlets Local Plan here.

    Greater London Authority (GLA):

    The Greater London Authority (GLA) is the top tier administrative body covering the Greater London area. It is comprised of two parts: the London Assembly and the Mayor of London as defined under legislation. The London Assembly scrutinises the activities of the Mayor of London in the public interest.

    Tall Building:

    The Council's Local Plan defines a tall building as any building that is significantly taller than its local context and/or has a significant impact on the skyline. Within the borough, buildings of more than 30 metres, or those which are more than twice the height of surrounding buildings (whichever is the lesser) will be considered to be a tall building. 

    High Density Living Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)

    The High Density Living SPD is at a draft stage and will support our recently adopted Local Plan, in particular policy S.DH1- Delivering high quality design and policy D.DH7 - Density. The project helps to deliver the mayor’s manifesto pledges to improve the quality and fairness of housing and make development work for local people.

    This SPD seeks to provide a clear design vision and set expectations for future high density development in the borough. We want to ensure that future high density homes and tall buildings support good quality of life for all residents living and working in these buildings. This includes making these spaces work for families, improve social integration, promote health and well-being and responds to the climate emergency.

    Why is the SPD needed?

    Tower Hamlets has the biggest pipeline of tall buildings in London. Policy D.DH6 of the Council's Local Plan contains baseline policy in relation to the development of tall buildings and designates zones where it is expected that the majority of tall building development will be directed.

    The Tall Buildings SPD is necessary to provide additional guidance on how to interpret and apply local and London plan policy. In particular this SPD will:

    • Provide guidance for 'transition zones' at the edge of the tall building zones. Without additional guidance about how the areas at the edge of tall building zones should be treated, there is the risk of creating a ‘cliff edge’ of tall buildings next to low-rise residential areas in these transition zones. This SPD will provide guidance on what is considered an appropriate ‘step-up’ in these areas, taking into account heritage, views, and quality of life.
    • Ensure conformity with the new London Plan. The emerging London Plan states that boroughs should set indicative heights for areas where tall buildings are considered appropriate, based on visual, functional, environmental, and cumulative impacts. The emerging Local Plan policy does not set these heights, and an SPD is an opportunity to explore this, and to ensure that the application of our policy is in line with the new London Plan.
    • Clarify the policy in regards to the delivery of tall buildings outside of the tall building zones. The Council's local plan policies do not preclude the development of tall buildings outside of tall building zones altogether. This SPD will give more guidance as to the circumstances in which a tall building is acceptable outside of a designated tall building zone.

    How is the Tall Buildings SPD different to the High Density Living SPD?

    The High Density Living SPD has gone through formal consultation and is expected to be adopted in December 2020. This SPD seeks to address quality of life issues associated with living within a high density environment and provides detailed design guidance for future high density residential schemes. The detailed guidance will cover specific design matters in relation to the built, public and natural environment around a building, residential building typologies, communal spaces and the design, layout and function of homes themselves. 

    The Tall Buildings SPD will cover recurring themes that will be similar to those contained within the High Density Living SPD as high density development and tall buildings are closely related matters. However, the Tall Buildings guidance will contain a focus on where such buildings should be developed, what historical, cultural or characteristic settings should protected and at what height tall buildings will be considered acceptable. The cumulative impact of tall buildings on the skyline and streetscape will be carefully considered. The Tall Buildings SPD will also consider building typologies in relation to a range of use classes, form, public realm, amenity and microclimate. 

    What will be the status of the SPD once it is adopted?

    The Tall Buildings SPD will be a material consideration to help determine planning applications within the borough. This means that once the SPD is adopted, in addition to satisfying the requirements of national, regional and local planning policies, development proposals will also need to demonstrate how the guidance in this SPD has been considered.  

    The document can also be used by anyone who is interested in the delivery of tall buildings within the borough.

    Where will the guidance apply once it has been adopted?

    Once adopted, the SPDs guidance will be applied borough wide, with specific guidance on each of the 5 tall building zones identified in Policy D.DH6 of the Local Plan. The Council's Tall Building Zones are provided on the landing page of this engagement website and include the following areas:

    1. Aldgate
    2. Canary Wharf
    3. Millwall Inner Dock
    4. Blackwall
    5. Leamouth 

    What will happen following the workshops?

    After the four introductory workshops, we will host a second stage of workshops in early 2021. These second stage workshops will be held on the same area-by-area basis that was used for the introductory workshops. These workshops will provide attendees with preliminary modelling and views of tall building developments identifying a proposed approach to the development of such buildings. 

    These second stage workshops will provide a further opportunity for you to have your say. We will provide details of how to sign-up to these workshops via this webpage once the dates are set.

    All comments and information received from each of the workshops will be taken into account and will help to inform the SPD as it is developed. We will publish a summary of the consultation events undertaken together with the draft SPD when the latter goes out for public consultation, which is expected to happen in summer 2021.