The definition of ‘tall’ depends on urban, cultural, and societal context, but generally speaking this could mean any building whose height creates a marked difference in the urban fabric.
The regulations imposed by the planning process is crucial to the management of change, and this is dealt with in the main by CABE and English Heritage. They address conflicts, and control short-term profit lead development, and protect the interest of the wider public.
These issues often result in what might be confusing and conflicting decisions being made for similar designs, in different cities. The control is entirely justified because the mistakes of the ‘modernist’ period should never be repeated, and the built environment provides us with our heritage in the same way as a work of art. With the exception that built form has far more impact on society.
The production of a thorough and robust planning application addresses these issues and when done properly, the process of the application often draws issues to the attention of the developer who has many opportunities to correct, adjust and improve the scheme.
The Visual Impact Assessment is often the first time that the developer fully understands the implications of development on the local area. The architect will have thoroughly justified the building within their Design Statement but it is only when the VIA is complete that everyone truly understands the impact.
With a digital modeling solution we can only tell the truth. Full surveys are taken, satellite data collected, and once the mass of the building has been digitally created and then verified, the story can be truthfully told. Increasingly planners require digital imaging for planning applications of any size, because they understand the accuracy of the data, and the process that we go through.
The main issue with producing these documents is that the planners must not be given a fait a complis… we consult with them, and produce a VIA that reflects the issues that they have. Our models can be transported in a briefcase (on a laptop of course…), and can quickly provide immediate feedback of particular views of a development. I have sat with city planners and been able to demonstrate developments in their wider context, and been able to satisfy them of fears and concerns that they might have had, not ‘in a few days’, or ‘I’ll get back to you’, …but there and then.
The biggest stumbling block any development can have though is with CABE and English Heritage. If they cannot be persuaded of the contextual suitability and design of a scheme, the developer can have an extremely rocky ride through the whole process. The architect, developer and planning consultant must put forward a very robust justification and rationalisation for tall buildings, and digital modeling is the only way to truthfully communicate their visual appearance.
If the developer has done his or her homework properly, and considered all the aspects of consequence then they stand a much better chance of being embraced by regulation, instead of being rejected by it.