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A statement on the protected view of St Paul’s Cathedral

Oliver Caroe, Surveyor to the Fabric, St Paul’s Cathedral, said:

The Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral have been made aware of the concerns for the protected view of the cathedral from Richmond, first raised by the Friends of Richmond Park. 

The Cathedral was not notified or consulted on the planning application for this major development project in 2011 by the usual and expected procedures of referral which are stipulated by the Greater London Authority and Mayor of London’s London View Management Framework supplementary planning policy.

We note that the LVMF states that ‘development that exceeds the threshold plane of the wider setting consultation area will be subject to the same consultation and referral requirements as the landmark viewing corridor’. At this time, it is not clear why referral did not take place and the Cathedral will be glad to work with other partners to discover what lessons will be learned from this case. 

Chapter has always recognised that the protected views of strategic landmarks has been designated for the benefit for all Londoners. We are privileged in this generation to play our part, with others who are concerned for the built-environment, in safeguarding Sir Christopher Wren’s visionary landmark which contributes so enduringly to our identity as a city and society.

In this case we observe that LVMF requires that, from the protected view from King Henry VIII’s Mound in Richmond Park, developments ‘should preserve or enhance the viewer’s ability to recognise and appreciate the dome of the Cathedral… it is essential …that the clear sky background profile of the upper part of the dome remains’.

Therefore it is reasonable for the public and statutory authorities to be concerned about the SOM Stratford development.  We have been advised that the policy is expressly to safeguard the clear skyline view of the landmark and there is no limit to the distance behind the dome of the cathedral where the wider setting consultation area ceases to apply. We hope the experts in the field of view protection will clarify and confirm this interpretation and expectation. 

The LVMF was formally adopted in 2011 and has given all developers and land-owners the clarity they should need to manage their assets within a fair set of objective rules. St Paul’s would welcome the additional clarity and scrutiny that a 3D model of London would bring and we support the calls of other players for a management and visualisation tool. Because these views are preserved for all who visit and live in of London to enjoy in perpetuity, there should be no controversy over them.

We would further welcome the opportunity to engage with all parties in the planning system to improve training and awareness to ensure that the heritage assets and views of Strategic Landmarks, which the GLA and the London Mayor has designated, operate effectively.