Green councillors have raised concerns through questions submitted to a Cabinet meeting (6/11/18) about the Labour Mayor’s support for high rise buildings, pointing out a number of different wellbeing and environmental issues with the tall developments which Marvin Rees has said “communicate ambition and energy”.
Questions submitted by Green councillors Martin Fodor (Redland) and Clive Stevens (Clifton Down) highlighted problems with the ‘Urban SPD’ (Supplementary Planning Document) and its enthusiasm for tall building developments.
The issues raised by the councillors include:
- Tall buildings are “widely considered unsuitable to live in for many groups of people particularly for families with children” according to the SPD – however the document later suggests small children can live on lower floors. It does not go into further detail on the other groups.
- Tall buildings may be more expensive to build, which developers may use to offer less affordable housing than alternatives.
- They often have a worse environmental impact due to a high carbon footprint of construction and less opportunity for on-site renewable energy.
- Developers of tall buildings are invariably larger corporate developers rather than local businesses employing local people, trades, and supply chains.
- Tall buildings often impact on the microclimate of surrounding areas and require empty spaces surrounding them which then cannot be used for other developments.
- Without proper planning there are often issues such as poor control of waste and recycling and not enough space for car parking or bikes.
- Tall buildings are not necessarily required to house more people – higher density housing can be achieved by designing better neighbourhoods rather than ‘building up’ (As concluded by a UK Govt report)
Cllr Fodor said: “Studies have shown that housing more people doesn’t necessarily require high rises, just better designed neighbourhoods. Cities like Paris lack the skyscrapers of London but house far more people per square kilometre, all in buildings four or six stories tall. I have nothing against tall buildings providing they provide healthy and affordable housing, but we should be aware of the potential issues with these developments and not see them as an end in themselves.
"I’m concerned that the Mayor’s personal preference for the ‘ambitious’ look of tall buildings could get in the way of the Council’s duty to support affordable and healthy places to live, safe neighbourhoods, and balanced communities.”