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Height restriction laws

Height restriction laws are laws that restrict the maximum height of structures.

There are a variety of reasons for these measures. Some restrictions limit the height of new buildings so as not to block views of an older work decreed to be an important landmark by a government. For example, In the Tsarist Russian capital of Saint Petersburg, buildings could not be taller than the Winter Palace.[1]

Other restrictions are because of practical concern, such as around airports to prevent any danger to flight safety.


Hong Kong SAR

To protect the ridge line along Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon, height restrictions are imposed according to the location of the buildings or structures.[2]


In Bali, Indonesia, a building cannot be higher than a palm tree, which is about 15 meters. The only building that is higher than a palm tree is the Bali Beach Hotel because the hotel was built before the height restriction was announced.[3] How much this is enforced is in question.[4]


Buildings in Raffles Place, Marina Centre, Marina Bay Sands, Bugis and Kallang have height restrictions of up to 280m because of the proximity of Paya Lebar Airbase.[5]


In Europe, there is no official general law restricting the height of structures. There are however height restriction laws in many cities, often aimed to protect historic skylines.

In Athens, buildings are not allowed to surpass twelve floors such as not to block the view towards the Parthenon. There are several exceptions though such as the Athens Tower, the Atrina center and the OTE central building which exceed that level. This is due to them being either built far away from the centre or the fact that they were constructed in periods of political instability. The city's tallest structure is the Athens Tower reaching 103m and counting 25 floors.

There is however a height restriction for new onshore wind turbines in the European Union, which set their total height to 200 metres ( ).

North America


Canada has no national height restrictions, but many individual cities do have height restriction bylaws and building is restricted by the national aviation authority (Transport Canada) near airports. Some examples:

  • Montreal: until the late 1920s, all buildings were limited to 10 stories.[6] Currently buildings are limited to a height of 200 meters and are subject to not contrasting the view of Mount Royal, the city's central green space, with the only exception being antennas and communication towers, that are allowed to reach Script error: No such module "convert". above mean sea level. The downtown today possesses only one building exceeding 200 m, the 1000 de la Gauchetière tower, which was built as a special project in 1992.
  • Ottawa-Gatineau: Until 1973, buildings in downtown Ottawa were limited to Script error: No such module "convert". so that the Peace Tower, part of the parliament buildings, could dominate the skyline.[7]
  • Saskatoon: continues to limit building heights to a maximum of 76 meters due to a flight path that bisects the downtown core,[8] however, the recent proposal of a 90 - 100 meter tower could potentially lead to the lifting of this height limit.[9]
  • Vancouver: maintains "view corridors" that protect views of the North Shore Mountains.[10] It also has a density bank that allows developers to exceed maximum building height restrictions in exchange for preserving heritage buildings.
  • Whitehorse: No buildings should be taller than four stories due to the nearby fault line. The Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce said that maintaining the height restriction of four stories would discourage businesses from coming to the city. On 2007, the city rejected the proposal to increase the height limit to eight stories. In order to exceed height limit, the developer would have to apply for an amendment to the city's official community plan.[11]

United States

Both the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have a rebuttable presumption not to build any antennae over 2,000 ft above ground level. This is to prevent those structures from being a hazard to air navigation.[12]

For airports, sometimes there are exceptions for height restrictions made for important infrastructure equipment, as radio towers or for structures older than the airport. These structures have to be marked with red and white paint, have flight safety lamps on top, or both. Often red and white paint and flight safety lamps have to be installed on high structures (taller than 100 metres) far away from airports. Height restriction laws are not always kept strictly.

Several cities in the United States have local height limits, for example


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