Tall buildings continue to proliferate in London, says latest annual survey

Record numbers of tall buildings were started and completed across Greater London in 2016 with a small shift in the overall supply “pipeline” towards suburban areas, according to the latest annual survey by built environment forum New London Architecture and property consultants GL Hearn.

A total of 26 new tall buildings, defined as being of 20 or more storeys high, were finished compared with ten in 2015 and an average of just six over the past ten years. All but two of the new buildings were for residential use. In the same period construction began on 48 towers compared with 29 in 2015.

The number of planning applications submitted for tall buildings fell from 119 to 83, though the survey points out that the 2015 figure was dramatically inflated by plans for more than 40 being presented for the Greenwich Peninsula regeneration zone that year. The largest multiple tall building application submitted in 2016 was six, for the Elephant and Castle shopping centre redevelopment, the survey says.

The number of 20 storey-plus towers in the pipeline for the capital altogether stands at 455, comprising those for which applications have been submitted (63), are at a pre-application stage (45), have had permission granted (256) and on which building work is in progress (91). This is slightly more than the 436 in 2015 despite the uncertainty caused by the EU Referendum result last June.

The survey, using data compiled by EG-London Residential Research, estimated that a substantial 30% of the roughly 65,000 new residential properties currently under construction in London are within tall buildings and that there are 100,000 potential homes in the full pipeline of 455.

This amounts to two years’ worth of London’s overall housing need of approximately 50,000 a year. The survey notes that with work yet to start on 31 towers which received planning consent five or more years ago it is not certain that all those given the go-ahead will be built, though it concludes that so-called “paper towers” are not common.

The survey, the fourth of its kind, does not go into how many of the high-rise homes, completed or projected, qualify as “affordable” or meet London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s more stringent “genuinely affordable” definition. A chart recently posted on Twitter by Yolande Barnes of estate agents Savills illustrated the mismatch between the prices of new homes being built in London and the ability of people seeking homes to afford them.

The places with the largest numbers of tall buildings in their pipelines are Canary Wharf with 61, followed by Greenwich Peninsula with 54, Southwark postcode SE1 (location of Elephant and Castle) with 38 and the Vauxhall-Nine Elms redevelopment area in SW8.

Notable tower completions in Outer London in 2016 included Hendon Waterside as part of Barnet’s controversial West Hendon Estate redevelopment, and two in Croydon. The survey says that the vast majority of proposed tall buildings continue to be in Zones 1 and 2 while Zone 6 still has none, but that there have been slight percentage increases in Zones 3, 4 and 5.

Nine boroughs have no tall buildings on the way: Bexley, Bromley, Enfield, Havering, Hillingdon, Merton, Kensington and Chelsea, Richmond and Waltham Forest. However, the survey anticipates some being proposed for locations such as Bexley Riverside, Meridian Water (in Enfield), Hayes (Hillingdon), Kensal Rise (Kensington and Chelsea), Morden (Merton) and Walthamstow.

Sadiq Khan recently overruled two boroughs, Haringey and Harrow, to give green lights to a 21-storey tower in Tottenham Hale and a 17-storey one in Wealdstone, but his deputy mayor for planning Jules Pipe said in response to the tall buildings survey that “the mayor is the guardian of London’s skyline and is committed to ensuring new developments are of the highest possible design standard”. He added that they could help ease the capital’s housing crisis and that the forthcoming new London Plan “will include clear guidelines to help ensure they are built in suitable areas”.

NLA chairman Peter Murray described the “cumulative picture” of tall buildings coming forward as “fascinating” and welcomed the GLA’s recent decision to look at the idea of creating a “virtual three-dimensional London-wide model” of new developments. Murray urged them to deliver what he said would be “a practical tool that local communities and those in the development sector can use”.

The NLA London Tall Buildings Survey 2017 is here.




Categories: News

1 Comment

  1. michaelbach1 says:

    We are accumulating more consents each year as consents greatly exceed completions. Greater segmentation of the data is needed to measure the potential additional housing, distinguishing actual permissions, genuine starts to identify those under construction and completions. The contribution to additional housing units, let alone those that meet the needs of Londoners, needs heavy discounting. It will not be 100,000 – lucky if it is 30,000.

    It is time to:
    * understand how much housing is likely to materialise and whether it will meet the needs of Londoners
    * consider whether the emerging priorities of the Mayor mean that many of the consents should be renewed or not, especially their impact on the skyline, on local communities, whether it produces affordable housing and meets the needs of local communities for social infrastructure such as GP surgeries, primary schools, shops and play space.

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