City planners tighten rules to avoid tower downdraughts

Grant Prior 4 weeks ago
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The City of London Corporation has published new planning guidance to protect pedestrians and cyclists from powerful downdraughts caused by skyscrapers.

The UK’s first wind microclimate guidelines mean developers and designers will have to prioritise the comfort and safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

The Corporation said: “Wind can, in extreme cases, destabilise or push cyclists into the path of vehicles.

“By testing roadways as well as pavements through wind tunnel studies or computer simulations, it is expected that the more robust assessment will lead to a safer and more comfortable urban environment for all.”

The Corporation worked with specialist consultant RWDI to prepare the guidelines which will also:

  • Require that wind impacts are tested at the earliest point of a scheme’s design development (e.g. height and massing) to avoid the need to retrofit wind mitigation measures
  • Ensure more micro-level assessments of wind directions is carried out in wind tunnel testing
  • Apply a new rigorous code of practice in the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) techniques
  • Require the commissioning of two separate consultants, one to carry out wind tunnel testing and the other CFD, and interrogate any discrepancies between both sets of results
  • Assess the variation of mean and gust wind speed and height

Alastair Moss, Chair of the Planning and Transportation Committee, said: With the number of tall buildings in the Square Mile growing, it is important that the knock-on effects of new developments on wind at street-level are properly considered.

“These guidelines mark another significant step that the City Corporation is taking to put cyclists and pedestrians at the heart of planning in the Square Mile, prioritising their safety and experience.

“We hope these groundbreaking guidelines can create a blueprint for others by delivering safer, more enjoyable streets that meet the evolving needs of this great City.”

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