City to make demolition “last resort”

In a scheme aimed at reducing the Square Mile’s carbon footprint, developers in the City of London will be asked to consider alternatives to demolition at the earliest stage of the planning process.

The City of London Corporation is the first planning authority in the country to issue planning guidance in which developers will be expected to carry out a detailed review of the carbon impact of development options before submitting an application.

They should consider refurbishing existing buildings rather than knocking them down and replacing them with brand new structures, to reduce embodied carbon – the emissions produced during construction.

The guidance has been adopted by the City Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee.

City of London Corporation Planning and Transportation Committee Chairman Shravan Joshi says: “This pioneering planning guidance puts the City at the forefront of the growing drive to give substantial, detailed consideration to retaining and refurbishing buildings rather than simply knocking them down and starting from scratch. It will provide clarity for developers, who are themselves in increasing numbers looking to explore the environmental and financial advantages of retrofitting or refurbishing.

“In an area as dynamic and well-connected as the City, there will always be the potential for new builds, but this guidance, which supports our ambitious sustainability targets, will promote lower carbon alternatives where appropriate and assist developers in putting carbon considerations front and centre when preparing an application.”

The guidance, encapsulated in the City Corporation’s Whole Life-Cycle Carbon Optioneering Planning Advice Note, was adopted following a consultation with industry experts and other stakeholders which garnered ‘broad support’. It is unclear if any of these “industry experts” actually worked in the sphere of demolition.

Developers will also be expected to provide details of how their proposed building will operate as energy efficiently as possible. The analysis will be taken into account by City planners when determining planning applications.

The new guidance applies to major developments – those greater than 1,000 square metres of floorspace – and developments which propose knocking down most of the existing structure.

You can read more here about how a similar approach is being factored into the Government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. You can also listen to a dedicated podcast series on the subject here.