Another London skyscraper boom?
London is the tallest UK city by a long way. World-famous landmarks such as the Shard and Canary Wharf dot its skyline, making it instantly recognisable. Whether this is a good thing or not is a matter of personal taste, but one group who seem almost universally in favour are the people on the planning committees.
The figures from the latest Tall Buildings Survey from New London Architecture indicate that a staggering 510 tall buildings are in the pipeline for London, with 115 currently in construction. This compares to figures of 455 and 115 respectively from the 2016 survey.
The research also revealed some interesting implications for skyscrapers in the realm of public opinion. The skyline of a city is always a touchy subject as it concerns more than just the physical buildings. Skyscrapers have a bad reputation as towers for the global super-rich, which puts the average person off them. However, with 90% of these skyscrapers being fully residential, is it possible that opinions will begin to sway in favour?
All but seven London Boroughs have new tall buildings in the pipeline. It seems from the plans and overviews that Greenwich – in particular the area around the O2 Arena – is set to be the most saturated, but overall the spread of new buildings seems to be fairly wide.
But do these remarkable figures suggest a return to form for the skyscraper in London? The answer is not so clear.
Hidden underneath the initial good news are a few items which suggest that the trend may have peaked. Lots of towers may be in construction, but the actual number completed year on year fell by more than 30%. On top of this, the number of new tall buildings which got planning approval also fell by approximately 10% year on year.
It is never really possible to tell how many and which ones will actually end up being inhabited until they are finished. The significant cost of building a skyscraper is often a weight which ends up dragging a project down before it even starts. We are not recommending a “don’t believe the hype” stance, but it would be sensible to believe the evidence of your own eyes before judging whether skyscrapers are well and truly back in London.