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 largest 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: 

    • Define/classify what a tall building is in the context of Tower Hamlets; 

    • Provide new guiding principles and objectives to support the design and planning of tall building development; 

    • Provide detailed recommendations on tall building heights within the Boroughs five tall building zones, site allocations and housing zones, informed by a heritage analysis, spatial arrangements, character and townscape analysis and established planning frameworks set by the Borough's Development Plan.  

    • Provide further information on the supporting information required in Tall Building Planning Applications.  

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

    The High Density Living SPD was adopted by the Council in December 2020. Whilst there is some overlap between the Tall Buildings SPD and the High Density Living SPD the remit of the two SPDs is quite different. The latter is a topic based SPD focused on the design of quality living environments within high-density developments and places a strong emphasis on the design of the home and on organisational principles within high-density residential buildings wherever they may be located within the borough.

    The Tall Buildings SPD is a spatially focused SPD. It responds to the requirement within the London Plan to identify locations where tall buildings are appropriate in principle and to indicate the building heights that could be appropriate. This consideration is informed by a detailed understanding of Tower Hamlets Places, their character, morphology and townscapes, of heritage sensitivities and also the Local Plan vision for growth and the current development pipeline across the borough.

    The Tall Buildings SPD provides guidance that indicates how tall buildings may be planned and designed so that they contribute to high quality places and to the managed growth anticipated in the Local Plan. The two SPDs are complimentary to one another.

    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 plan-led, area-based guidance for each of the 4 Sub Areas identified in the Local Plan.

    1. Isle of Dogs & South Poplar 
    2. Lower Lea Valley 
    3. City Fringe 
    4. Central 

    What will happen following the consultation?

    After the consultation period ends, officers will review all submitted representations, survey responses and webinar feedback. The information will be carefully analysed and used to inform a final version of the Tall Buildings SPD prior to adoption by the Council.