Planners demand independent verification of wind assessments for all major projects

Concerns about strong winds at the bottom of the Walkie Talkie tower which were not predicted at the planning stage have prompted the City of London to start demanding independent verification of developers’ reports.

The City corporation is now insisting new towers in the Square Mile have their wind analysis reports independently assessed at developers’ expense. It has already found a “divergence” between some of these reports.

The move follows a series of complaints from the public about the level of wind disturbance near Rafael Vinoly’s Walkie Talkie, as well as a number of other buildings in the City. It also follows the death of a man in Leeds in a wind-related incident.

Gwyn Richards, head of design for the City of London, said: “A number of people have complained about the wind underneath 20 Fenchurch Street and the wind assessment didn’t indicate any significant issue there.

“Wind assessments have always been a key part of the City’s planning process but there is an increasing focus on the absolute need to ensure wind issues resulting from developments do not harm the public realm and its enjoyment by the public.

“This is why we are asking for independent verification of the wind studies on a number of new schemes to ensure as rigorous and resilient an approach as possible.

“We need more scrutiny. It was the right time to say: ‘We should look at this and make sure the case is watertight’.

“Where the independent assessments have been used we’ve seen there has been a divergence in conclusion (between the developer and the independent verification) – and we are getting improvements already.”

Canary Wharf Group and Land Securities, joint developers of 20 Fenchurch Street, declined to comment.

Among the first projects to require the checks was Wilkinson Eyre’s 40-storey tower at 6-8 Bishopsgate, where the independent report backed up the developer’s data.

The developer of PLP’s 278m-tall 22 Bishopsgate – formerly known as the Pinnacle – has also been asked to provide independent corroboration.

Both schemes are expected to be submitted for planning in the next few months and are considered by the corporation to be good examples of following the new practice.

Wind-related incidents have increased with the rise of tall buildings in London and other major cities in the past decade. A man in Leeds was crushed to death in 2011 after high winds around Aedas’ 112m-tall Bridgewater Place overturmed a lorry. Leeds council has documented dozens of incidents close to the tower since it was completed in 2007.