• Kevin Murphy

London Tall Buildings Report

London has certainly had its share of tall building developments of 20-storeys and more and results from this years New London Architecture survey published by Knight Frank shows that for 2019 60 tall buildings were constructed, a record number. This was an increase of 140% from 2018 when 25 tall buildings were completed. The report states there was a rise of 7% of planning permissions in 2019 by local Planning Committees for building approva mostly in inner London.

London: Canary Wharf

However the outer zones for the capital are seeing their share of new tall buildings with 13 of the 20 zones with tall buildings being constructed with an increase by 6% for tall buildings being in the pipeline when compared to 2018.

Mostly located in Opportunity Areas the outer London boroughs are now account for 35% of the new tall buildings as part of the London Plan public transport hubs. The most popular is Newham with 37 new tall buildings and Ealing with 8. Decreases can be found in Tower Hamlets with -8 and Hackney with -6.

For 2019 London completions in 2019 89% of all tall buildings currently in the pipeline and 88% in 2019 were for residential providing 110,000 new homes or nearly a two year supply. The London Plan calls for a requirement of 65,000 new homes per year to meet demand.

The tall building survey says:

"Of the ones completed, 77% were located within a scheme with multiple use classes, with residential and retail, including food and drink, the most prevalent mixed-use combination, accounting for 22%. This more holistic approach can help unlock developments across London by opening the opportunity to forward-fund the commercial aspects of a building and attracting a wider range of buyers amid challenging conditions."

There has been a decrease in tall building applications with new starts for London construction in 2019 at the lowest level since 2015 as a result of political uncertainty and building costs.

Peter Murray, Curator-in-chief of New London Architecture:

“These figures are for a period when the world was very different. COVID-19 means we will have to re- evaluate the direction of development in our cities. It raises questions about population growth in London, about property values and social quality. Will the pressure to build more homes reduce? What will be the long-term reaction to physical distancing and lockdown? Just as the virus itself created uncharted waters for the medical professions, so its effects on cities are unprecedented in terms of planning, design, development and well-being."

Stuart Baillie, Head of Planning at Knight Frank, the report’s Programme Champion and Research Partner:

“London’s tall buildings completion rate, which amounted to 60 in 2019, is quite staggering. Knight Frank’s research found that there is a continued willingness from planning authorities to consider height positively, particularly in outer London boroughs where we have seen significant pipeline growth. Elsewhere we are seeing a fairly consistent number of new schemes coming into the planning system. Clearly Covid-19 will impact the pipeline in 2020, but we’re confident that planning policies, land availability and housing need in London are likely to facilitate a return to a stronger tall building pipeline in the medium term.”

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