Survey reveals more tall buildings planned for London

Wednesday 9 March 2016

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©Visualhouse and photographer Dan Lowe_Proposed London skyline

©Visualhouse and photographer Dan Lowe - View From St Pauls towards Blackfriars - BEFORE

©Visualhouse and photographer Dan Lowe - View From St Pauls towards Blackfriars - PROPOSED - outlines

©Visualhouse and photographer Dan Lowe - View From St Pauls towards Blackfriars - Proposed - outlines

©Visualhouse and photographer Dan Lowe - View From St Pauls towards The City - BEFORE

©Visualhouse and photographer Dan Lowe - View From St Pauls towards The City - PROPOSED -outlines

©Visualhouse and photographer Dan Lowe - View From St Pauls towards The City - PROPOSED -outlines

A new report released today reveals there are an additional 119 new tall buildings planned for London since this time last year. This takes the total number of tall buildings in the pipeline to 436. The research, which is updated annually, is published by New London Architecture (NLA) and GLHearn (part of Capita Real Estate) and includes buildings of 20 floors and over.

  • The research shows that since last year, the number of tall buildings that are under construction has increased from 70 to 89
  • A total of 233 tall buildings in London have planning approval but are yet to start on site and a further 114 towers are either in planning or at pre-application stage
  • 94 tall buildings were submitted for planning since this time last year, up from 72 in the previous year. Of these 43 were approved in the same year, albeit 32 of these form part of the Greenwich Peninsula scheme, which has been developed through the planning system over a number of years. Three were refused and the rest await planning approval.
  • A significant number of the tall buildings planned form parts of wider masterplans, which arrange multiple towers in clusters.

Over the last two years, NLA with GL Hearn have reviewed planning and construction activity for tall buildings over 20 storeys. This year EGi has provided access to its extensive database allowing additional projects to be identified, which includes tall building proposals that pre-date the start of the survey in 2014.

The completion of tall buildings in the capital is still relatively small with only 19 tall buildings completed over the last year, up from 6 in the 2015 report, indicating that whilst there are a large number of tall buildings are in the pipeline, a relatively small proportion are currently being delivered.

For the third year running, Tower Hamlets lives up to its name as the London borough with the majority of tall buildings surveyed – a total of 93 are proposed (either in planning or at pre-application stage). Greenwich takes second place, with 67 projects, a significant increase from the 8 schemes revealed in last year’s report. An increasing number of tall buildings are also coming forward in outer London, with 23 proposed in Barnet and 18 in Croydon.

The iconic City Cluster will see a number of new tall buildings around Leadenhall, with the proposed 1 Undershaft becoming the tallest in the City at 73 floors high, and a new design for 22 Bishopsgate.

The average height of London’s new tall buildings is approximately 30 storeys, with 60% of the tall buildings reaching between 20 and 29 storeys. Only 8 tall buildings reach 60 or more storeys. City Pride in Tower Hamlets will become the capital's tallest residential tall building at 75 floors. The trend towards residential tall buildings continues unabated, with 73% of the proposed tall buildings designed primarily for living accommodation.

The collaboration between NLA, GL Hearn and EGi marks a more extensive look into the current tall building development in London, which has seen fierce debate both within the industry and the wider public.

Chairman of New London Architecture, Peter Murray, encourages a greater interaction between the public and the planning system, saying: “We believe that well designed tall buildings in the right place, and well coordinated clusters, are acceptable. It is increasingly important that the planning and development community improves the way it communicates with the wider public. We continue to press for the Mayor to prepare a three-dimensional computer model of the whole of London to better assess the impact of these buildings. The 436 tall buildings in the pipeline is a significant number.

However, with the much publicized softening of the housing market, it remains to be seen how quickly they are delivered.”

James Cook, Planning Director for GL Hearn (part of Capita Real Estate) added: “The two most striking findings for us were about the number of applications for tall buildings submitted and approved over the course of the year and construction activity. The planning system demonstrated how efficient it can be with 43 applications for tall buildings gaining permission having being submitted during the year – whilst the majority of these towers were in one very large scheme, this nevertheless demonstrates the benefit of London’s strategic approach to tall buildings. The other very notable trend is that whilst the overall numbers increase, the level of construction activity remains relatively flat. We attribute this to the significant development and investment risk required to commit to construct tall buildings. Overall it is clear that delivery is a long way behind the pipeline and the planning system needs to continue to ensure any scheme that comes forward is carefully designed with architecture of the highest quality.”

Sir Edward Lister, Deputy Mayor of Planning, said: “London is in the middle of a population boom that shows no sign of slowing down and it’s important we look at a range of options to achieve both the housing and work space need. Tall buildings can play a role in meeting some of that demand and the Mayor has ordered a strategic approach to securing the world-class architecture of the capital’s skyline to ensure they sit well in their surroundings and are of the highest standards possible.

“Tall buildings are positioned in the right areas of London in planned clusters which work well together and ensure they make a positive contribution in delivering much-needed homes, affordable housing and jobs.”

NLA has also collaborated with visualisation experts Visualhouse to create a specially commissioned image of the future London skyline, as seen at the top of this release.

This announcement comes in advance of Europe's biggest developer event MIPIM, taking place 15- 18 March in Cannes, France.

#NLAtallbuildings @nlalondon @carocomms 

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