Appropriate graffiti at Lisson Gallery for Council consultation on Building Height in the City

Westminster City Council has started its consultation on skyline of the City via the launching of its document Building Height: Getting the right kind of growth for Westminster.  It is worth bearing in mind a major consideration it doesn’t acknowledge at all in the consultation documentation, what the population density within the borough of the city is already when the population of the City is projected to grow from 226,000 to 262,000 by 2036 requiring some 21,000 homes. 

The Council has some of the most densely populated wards in the UK  already.   Five out of 10 of the most dense wards ( Church St, Harrow Rd, Tachbrook, Queen’s Park, Lancaster Gate ) in the country by population are in the borough, particularly in the North West part of the City. And 8 out of the top 20 in the country including Bayswater, Westbourne and Churchill Wards to the 5 already in the top 10. So do we really want to make these wards any more dense by population?? I don’t think local residents will take to kindly to it when they see the figures comparing them against the rest of the country. 

We should thus not make these particular wards anymore dense then they are already certainly unless fully compensated with a lot more open space and better management of communal space ( both private and public ) by the council and developers in line with the rest of London, at least. For example in the most dense ward of the City it has only one bit of public space, Broadley St Gardens in Church St Ward. Are we really going to make that ward more dense without at least some more open space?  

We should be also mindful of the pattern within the City as well as the list of most dense words looks like below;

It is noticeable that the wards with the lowest population density in the City are St James and Knightsbridge & Belgravia, with densities quite a bit lower that the London average of 51.3 per hectare. While wards like Church St & Harrow Road have almost five times their population density. So its quite clear on the basis of population density where the skyline and thus the population density of Westminster should be increased, without actually affecting the skyline unduly and accommodating the further growth of the City.  

Existing population density should be an important considerable in determining the building height of the City and getting the right kind of growth for Westminster yet in its consultation document its not a major consideration at all. Indeed it is a major admission of the consultation. 

5 thoughts on “BUILD IT UP ON!

  1. Pingback: Labour challenges Conservative Council plans for yet more tall buildings | labourwestminster

  2. Mark Lutyens

    Dear Murad,
    This research is most interesting – thank you for it. I live on Woodfield Rd which is an area blighted by (the proposed Hathaway Hse tall tower) and threatened by more of the same at the Getty Images site and elsewhere.The short answer to ‘tall towers, yes or no?’ is ‘NO’ but the more important question is ‘why increase population density at all?’ in our area when, as your research shows, we are bursting at the seams already with very little green or open space between.
    As for green spaces, I am a landscape architect and very familiar with the Corbusian vision of tall towers and green space between. It’s great in theory but the gardens that surround tower blocks are at best sterile and more usually hostile and unused (except as car parks) e.g. Oversley House near my office. I prefer low rise (not more 4-5 stories) with plenty of private gardens, roof terraces and roof gardens to soften the monolith. This combination seems to provide a good ‘building to nature balance’ and allows people to connect directly to gardens and open spaces in a way that gardens maintained by a Local Authority just don’t.

    1. Murad

      Thanks Mark.

      I think you live in Harrow Rd ward which is one of the most dense wards in the UK using the last census results.

      Such considerations have not been taken up at all in the WCC consultation on Building Height. I trust you have been able to make a contribution to consultation exercise.


  3. Skyline Campaign

    The Skyline Campaign strenuously objects to the proposal of relaxing policies on additional height within the Borough of Westminster, on the basis that more tall buildings will greatly undermine the character of this historic Borough, while only marginally increasing density. Westminster is already a very dense area; if additional housing is to be built, it should be appropriate to context, in maximum mid rise blocks (6-8 floors), utilising appropriate brownfield and infill sites. On the whole, however, addtional population growth should be accommodated in areas that are not already over-populated. The Mayor is looking already at alternative, sensitive ways of densifying Outer London, where there is considerable land that could be used for mid rise and dense low-rise neighbourhoods. WCC’s only real purpose for building tall is to raise
    revenue. This is a knee-jerk, short-termist, blinkered approach that must be stopped at all costs.
    Barbara Weiss Co-founder Skyline Campaign

    1. Murad


      I accept the points you make.

      Existing population density should be an important considerable in determining the building height of the City and getting the right kind of growth for Westminster yet in its consultation document its not a major consideration at all. Indeed it is a major admission of the consultation.



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