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Sun October 17 2021

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City of London calls time on wind impact

20 Aug 19 Intense building development and a growing number of skyscrapers can intensify the behaviour of wind, creating gusts. That much is known. Now, the City of London is trying to do something about it.

The City of London Corporation has today published the UK’s first wind microclimate guidelines for new development proposals in the Square Mile. Going further than established thinking, it says, the set of guidelines raises the benchmark for acceptable wind conditions in the City, putting the comfort and safety of cyclists and pedestrians first.

City planners say that the guidelines provide a more robust framework for assessing the impact of planning applications on wind conditions. They will ensure what were previously acceptable ‘business walking conditions’ are now reclassified as ‘uncomfortable’, and must now be avoided other than in exceptional circumstances of limited public access.

For the first time in the UK, effects on cycling comfort and safety arising from wind microclimate are also considered. A gust of wind can push a cyclist under a lorry. 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.

Greater consideration is also now required outside schools and elderly people’s homes.

The City Corporation collaborated with Ender Ozkan of RWDI, a specialist consulting engineer.

The guidelines 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.

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More micro-level assessments of wind directions must be carried out in wind tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) studies must be commissioned as well as wind tunnel tests, and two sets of results cross-checked.

The new guidelines are in line with the City of London Corporation’s transport strategy and draft city plan (to be finalised in the coming months), which aim to prioritise pedestrians, promote cleaner and healthier ways to travel, and increase the amount of high-quality public space in the City.

Alastair Moss, chair of the planning & 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.”

To read more about the wind guidelines, see the City of London Corporation's Design Guidance site.

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