Tall buildings guidance

Setting out the approach to tall buildings in Ealing.


Ealing adopted a formal position statement on tall buildings as an Independent Cabinet Member Decision (ICMD) on 11 January 2022, this is implemented as planning guidance by the LPPG. It is considered important to adopt this guidance in order to ensure clarity now that the 2021 London Plan has been adopted with the Secretary of State’s directed changes, and in the interim before the development of the new Local Plan. 

Revision date: 19 January 2022

Ealing’s approach to tall buildings

How will Ealing manage applications for tall buildings?

Ealing will apply the following principles in planning for tall buildings pending the development of the new local plan:

  • Tall buildings in Ealing should be plan-led and speculative schemes will generally be resisted. 
  • Ealing’s adopted Core Strategy directs tall buildings to specified sites within Acton, Ealing and Southall town centres, gateways to Park Royal and identified development sites only.
  • The locations of tall buildings need to be tested against the sensitivity indicators identified in the council’s evidence base as set out below.

Revision date: 19 January 2022

What principles inform the development of tall buildings?

Tall buildings also generate greater impacts on their surroundings than other forms of development whether due to their visual prominence or functional impacts such as their transport, servicing and construction needs. For all of these reasons, the development of tall buildings should be tested at the plan-making stage and their development be plan-led.

This approach is a long-standing part of Ealing’s current Local Plan and has been since its adoption in 2012-13.  However, all local planning authorities also have a legal obligation to consider any application on its merits, including in cases of speculative applications for tall buildings.  This approach has been somewhat tempered with the adoption of the new London Plan, which reinforces the existing plan-led approach, and by the government’s proposed move to a ‘zonal’ system of planning that aims for simple pass-or-fail tests in decision making.

Revision date: 19 January 2022

Policy framework

What is the policy framework for managing tall buildings in Ealing?

Ealing’s policy on tall buildings is set out in the adopted Ealing Local Plan (Development Strategy and Development Management DPD), and by the London Plan (2021). 

Revision date:19 January 2022

What is Ealing’s local plan policy?

Development Strategy Policy 1.2(h) specifies that ‘Tall buildings may be suitable in specified sites within Acton, Ealing and Southall town centres, gateways to Park Royal and identified development sites only’.  The policy also states that sites may be identified as suitable through other parts of the development plan or through supplementary planning documents.

The policy further defines tall buildings as; ‘those that are substantially taller than their neighbours and/or which significantly change the skyline’.

Revision date: 19 January 2022

What is the London Plan policy?

Policy D9 Tall buildings defines tall buildings as follows:

“Based on local context, Development Plans should define what is considered a tall building for specific localities, the height of which will vary between and within different parts of London but should not be less than 6 storeys or 18 metres measured from ground to the floor level of the uppermost storey.” (London Plan, March 2021, Policy D9 A)

This definition accords with the contextual definition set out in DM DPD Policy 7.7 and so that definition will continue to apply in Ealing pending the development of the new Local Plan.

Policy D9 similarly sets out a plan-led approach to location:

  1. “Boroughs should determine if there are locations where tall buildings may be an appropriate form of development, subject to meeting the other requirements of the Plan. This process should include engagement with neighbouring boroughs that may be affected by tall building developments in identified locations.
  2. Any such locations and appropriate tall building heights should be identified on maps in Development Plans.
  3. Tall buildings should only be developed in locations that are identified as suitable in Development Plans.” (London Plan, March 2021, Policy D9 B)

The current local plan approach for tall buildings in Ealing will therefore stand until the development of a new Local Plan.

Revision date: 19 January 2022

How will detailed impact tests be applied to tall buildings?

The Ealing Character Study and Housing Design Guide provide generic design principles that will be applied to the consideration of tall buildings and future development in general. These include responding to character, context and identity, scrutinising the built form in terms of scale, massing, density, plot coverage, building heights and rooflines and ensuring that developments are well connected with their surroundings. For tall buildings, the visual impact on views, the integration with neighbourhoods, the effects on the microclimate and the sustainability of the buildings will also be of particular importance. These design principles will be used to assess planning applications as they come forward.

The location of tall buildings will be particularly sensitive within or close to areas in Ealing that contain the following assets:

  • Statutory listed buildings: Special regard needs to be had to the desirability of preserving a listed building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses
  • Designated Conservation Areas: Proposals for tall buildings need to ensure that Ealing’s 29 conservation areas continue to be preserved and enhanced
  • Designated Heritage Land:  The impact on the setting of as open land of historic value, including sites listed on the on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England needs to be carefully assessed
  • Landmarks: Structures of Borough level importance that are notable for their visual prominence, character and architectural value are considered sensitive to the impact of new tall buildings.
  • Topography: Taller buildings on higher, more prominent positions will be seen more widely and will have a greater impact on the surrounding area, therefore increasing their sensitivity.

Further work is being carried out as part of the new Local Plan sites allocations process to assess where tall buildings may be appropriate, taking into account their sensitivity and suitability.

 Revision date: 19 January 2022