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Are London’s protected view corridors still relevant today?

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Pedestrians walk along the Millennium Bridge with St Paul's Cathedral in the background in London on October 27, 2016.
Britain's economy won a double boost on October 27 on news of faster-than-expected growth following its vote for Brexit and a pledge by Nissan to build new car models in the UK. Gross domestic product expanded by 0.5 percent in the third quarter, official data showed.
 / AFP / Daniel Leal-Olivas        (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Pedestrians walk along the Millennium Bridge with St Paul's Cathedral in the background in London on October 27, 2016. Britain's economy won a double boost on October 27 on news of faster-than-expected growth following its vote for Brexit and a pledge by Nissan to build new car models in the UK. Gross domestic product expanded by 0.5 percent in the third quarter, official data showed. / AFP / Daniel Leal-Olivas (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
CNN —  

Tucked away in a residential corner of south-east London, Blackheath Park is neither well signposted nor easily located on a map.

Yet this tourist non-spot has an incredible asset – a strikingly unspoiled view of central London, spanning many of the city’s iconic landmarks from the gleaming 21st century Shard to St Paul’s Cathedral, built in 1675.

London's little known protected view from Blackheath Park
CNN
London's little known protected view from Blackheath Park

Only a few cranes encroach on the view.

But this pristine panorama is no accident.

Blackheath Park is home to one of London’s eight protected views of St Paul’s Cathedral, a series of visual corridors that have been quietly safeguarded since the 1930s.

Protecting London’s landmarks

The London Building Acts of 1888 and 1894 ruled that architects should not be allowed to build structures in London higher than a fireman’s ladder – roughly 10 stories – to ensure the city’s finest landmarks, specifically St Paul’s Cathedral, were not overshadowed or obscured.

This rule was not amended until 1956.

In the 1930s, however, skyscrapers taller than this began to shoot up in New York City, signaling a new era in architecture.

Across the pond in London, developers of buildings such as Unilever House (1933) started to skirt the London Building Acts by claiming the top floors of their towers were not for office or residential use.