Character and Design

Character Areas

St James’s is an area of exceptional historic and townscape importance. The Plan proposes that development within the area, including refurbishment, which accounts for the majority of development, should adopt an approach that acknowledges and contributes to St. James’s tradition of excellence. Additionally, the Plan suggests that high-quality, environmentally sustainable materials should be used, respecting and positively contributing to the local setting.

The Forum has identified distinct differences in character across the Conservation Area and Neighbourhood Area. Character areas have been identified as contributing to the unique character and balance of uses within St. James’s.

The designation of these character areas is intentionally flexible, aiming to assist in identifying future development opportunities that will contribute to a cohesive spatial vision.

Roof-top plant

Incremental development and the continued installation of a range of roof clutter and roof-top plant has resulted in many of St James’s roof profiles looking untidy and unattractive.

Roof-top locations play an important role in providing green infrastructure which assists with the delivery of biodiversity net gain and pollution mitigation.

The Plan therefore encourages the use of basements, and other enclosed areas, to accommodate plant, where practical and feasible, taking into account the operational nature of the building.

Shopfronts and signage

The Plan proposes that where possible, existing shopfronts should be retained, adapted sensitively and incorporated into new development.

To complement and enhance the cluster of historic shopfronts, the Plan recommends that new shopfronts should draw inspiration from the design of historic shopfronts in the surrounding area.


While there are strategic, long distance views across St James’s – which are classified as ‘protected vistas’ in Westminster City Plan Policy 40, the views that are iconic to St James’s are much more localised.

The Plan proposes that development should respect or enhance these views.

Read the Neighbourhood Plan

Read more about the character and design policies in the Neighbourhood Plan