London's motley medley of skyscrapers has grown fast in recent years. That much is no secret. The latest instalment of NLA's Tall Buildings Report reveals just how many towers have sprung up, and how many more are in the pipeline.
For the purposes of this report, a tall building is defined as anything at 20 storeys or more. The 'pipeline' is defined as all towers that are proposed, approved or under construction.
Here are the headlines from the report:
- It's been a bumper year for tall buildings. 26 were completed in 2016, many more than any other survey year. The total is projected to grow still further over the next two years.
- Construction began on a further 48 tall buildings in 2016. That's an increase of 68% on 2015.
- On the other hand, new applications have dwindled by 30%. 83 high-rise buildings were submitted for planning permission in 2016, compared with 119 in 2015. Brexit effect? Not so fast. The drop is attributed to an unusual single application in 2015 for more than 40 buildings in North Greenwich, which made that year much higher than the norm. Any effects of Brexit have yet to be seen, says the report.
- Overall, there are now 455 tall buildings in the development pipeline.
The vast majority of these new towers are residential, as the chart below shows. 30% of the new homes in London currently under construction are in such buildings. Were the entire pipeline of residential buildings to go ahead, London would gain 100,000 new homes.
Two boroughs are particular hotspots in the total pipeline: Greenwich (with major projects in Woolwich and Greenwich Peninsula among others); and Tower Hamlets (the area around Aldgate and, of course, the purlieus of Canary Wharf). Southwark and Hammersmith & Fulham are not far behind.
In terms of buildings completed in 2016, Tower Hamlets is way ahead of the pack:
London is not gaining height everywhere, though. Nine boroughs have no tall buildings in the pipeline: Bexley, Bromley, Enfield, Havering, Hillingdon, Merton, Kensington and Chelsea, Richmond upon Thames and Waltham Forest. Of course, any of these may have projects under 20 storeys that nevertheless would dominate their mostly low-rise skylines.
The Tall Buildings Report is a clear and interesting read in its own right, but it also has an advisory function. The survey is intended to assist the Mayor — who has power to overturn such projects — as he develops the new London Plan. The full report is available as a free download here.
Matt Brown, Londonist.com, 2017.