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 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.

Height restriction laws sometimes become a point of contention in cities due to their use in regulating the growth of the housing supply. Fast growth of housing supply benefits renters by producing low prices and more choice, while slow or no growth in housing supply benefits property owners by allowing them to charge higher prices. In this way, height restriction laws often become part of a class conflict even when their original purpose was innocuous.



Buildings in the Petaling Jaya suburb of Kelana Jaya were previously capped at 15 floors (around 50 or 60m in height) because of the close proximity to Subang International Airport, less than 5 km away. The height restriction was lifted in 1998 when commercial jet operations were relocated to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, and this saw higher buildings being erected, notably the 33-floor Ascent and New World Hotel towers at Paradigm Mall Petaling Jaya (the tallest in the area today, with heights of around 150m).

Middle East

Israel and Jordan inherited laws from the days of the British Mandate that prevent buildings from rising more than four stories above the ground except by special government permission. In Amman, these regulations have been credited with maintaining the city's architectural and urban heritage, but have also been accused of inflating housing prices and causing unsustainable urban sprawl.[2]


PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 1537 dated January 4, 1978 ENTITLED "Providing for the preservation of the walls of Intramuros and the restoration of its original moat and esplanade" by including preservation and restoration of the walled city includes (Section 10) the height of buildings within the Intramuros district shall be based upon the widths of streets on which the building abuts but the total height of the structure shall not exceed 30 meters. No tower shall be 35 meters high measured from the top of the sidewalk.

Hong Kong

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.[3]

Prior to the 1998 closure of the Kai Tak Airport, many places in Kowloon had a stricter building height restriction due to its proximity to the airport.


In Bali, Indonesia, a building cannot be higher than a coconut tree, which is about 15 meters.[4][5][6] The only building that is higher than a coconut tree is the Bali Beach Hotel because the hotel was built before the height restriction was announced.[7] The restriction was enforced by a regional regulation, however, how much this is enforced is in question.[8]


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 Air Base until 2030 as planned[9]


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 so 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 all exceed that level. This is due to them either being built far away from the centre, or to the fact that they were constructed during periods of political instability. The city's tallest structure is the Athens Tower, reaching 103m and comprising 25 floors.

In the central area of Rome, delimited by the Aurelian Walls, no building can exceed the height of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, 136 meters. A skyscraper called Torre Eurosky (Eurosky Tower), built in 2012 in EUR neighbourhood (outside the ban area). exceeds this limit being 155 meters high.

There is however a height restriction for new onshore wind turbines in the European Union, which set their total height to 200 metres.[10]

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:

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 feet (610 m) above ground level. This is to prevent those structures from being a hazard to air navigation.[18][19] In recent years, the FAA has requested that height limits within 10,000 feet (3,000 m) of an airport runway be lowered from 250 feet (76 m) to 160 feet (49 m), as development near airports has increased.[20]

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 (330 ft)) far away from airports. Height restriction laws are not always kept strictly.[citation needed]

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


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