A protected view or protected vista is the legal requirement within urban planning to preserve the view of a specific place or historic building from another location. The effect of a protected view is to limit the height of new buildings within or adjacent to the sightline between the two places so as to preserve the ability to see the landmark as a focus of the view. The protection may also cover the area behind the place or building concerned.
For example, in London views of St Paul's Cathedral are protected from various prominent locations around the city. In Edinburgh, a 2005 skyline study compiled a list of almost 170 key views which will now be protected in the planning process.
Protected views are not unique to the UK, also existing in places such as San Francisco which has some of the strictest limits in the world; Portland, Oregon where the size of downtown blocks is kept low to maintain the views of Mount Hood from the West Hills; and the city of Vancouver which has protected "view cones".
Protected Vistas in London
The thirteen vistas protected by the London View Management Framework are as follows:
- from Alexandra Palace to St Paul’s Cathedral
- from the summit of Parliament Hill to St Paul’s Cathedral
- from the summit of Parliament Hill to the Palace of Westminster
- from Parliament Hill, at the prominent oak tree east of the summit, to Palace of Westminster
- from the viewing gazebo at Kenwood House to St Paul’s Cathedral
- from the summit of Primrose Hill to St Paul’s Cathedral
- from the summit of Primrose Hill to the Palace of Westminster
- from Greenwich Park, north east of the General Wolfe statue, to St Paul’s Cathedral
- from Blackheath Point, near the orientation board, to St Paul’s Cathedral
- from Westminster Pier to St Paul’s Cathedral
- from King Henry VIII’s Mound in Richmond Park to St Paul’s Cathedral
- a distance of over 10 miles (16 km) and created in 1710, this view frames the cathedral through a special gap in holly hedging, down a specially maintained clear avenue in Sidmouth Wood and then all the way across London. This protected view has limited development around Liverpool Street Station as a tall structure there would form an unacceptable backdrop to the view of St Paul's.
- from the centre of the bridge over the Serpentine to the Palace of Westminster
- from the The Queen’s Walk at City Hall to the White Tower
The views of St Paul's Cathedral from Waterloo Bridge and Hungerford Bridge are not specifically mentioned although these views are protected in practice by the views from Richmond Park and from Westminster Pier respectively as these bridges are on the path of the protected vistas.
- "Protecting London's strategic views". Greater London Authority. July 2010. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
- "Edinburgh Skyline Study". City of Edinburgh Council. 2005. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
- "San Francisco General Plan: Urban Design". San Francisco Planning Department. 8 April 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- "View Protection Guidelines" (PDF). City of Vancouver. 1 February 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- "Protecting Vancouver's views". City of Vancouver. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- Catchpole, Tim (2004). "London Authority and Big Brother". RUDI - Resource for Urban Design Information. Retrieved 24 April 2011.