New figures show that 263 new buildings of 20 storeys or higher are getting off the ground in Greater London – with 70 projects already under construction, 117 currently awaiting the start of work after winning planning approval, and a further 76 either proposed or passing through the planning system.
“London remains a generally low-rise city, but with the capital set to be home to 10 million people by 2030 there is no doubt that sensibly managed and well-designed tall buildings…have a key role to play in meeting the challenge of our rapidly increasing population,” said Sir Edward Lister, deputy mayor of London for policy and planning.
The data is revealed in the annual London Tall Buildings Survey, which was released this week by discussion forum New London Architecture (NLA) and property consultancy GL Hearn. London is currently struggling to house a record population of 8.6 million people and rising. With this in mind, 62 of the 70 towers currently being built are residential properties which could provide approximately 14,800 new homes. And 80 per cent of all 263 towers in the pipeline will be primarily for residential use.
Tower Hamlets is at the heart of the tower-building boom, along with Lambeth, Southwark and Newham. The boroughs of Wandsworth and Greenwich have also seen a surge in applications over the last 12 months. However, Shaun Andrews, head of London strategy at GL Hearn, warned that it still took an average of 8.3 months for a major scheme to go through the planning system – and then another six years for the project to be completed.
“If London doesn’t grow up, it will need to grow out,” said Mr Andrews. “London clearly has a healthy pipeline of tall buildings but delivery on the ground has yet to really lift off. The number of schemes to have actively progressed through the planning system in the past 12 months is relatively small, and construction activity will need to step up if London is to capitalise on the potential to increase housing stock.”
Tall buildings gaining planning permission in the last 12 months include a 25-storey tower next to Southwark’s famous 87-storey Shard skyscraper, which stands 309m high and is the tallest building in the European Union.
Peter Murray, chairman of NLA and a member of the mayor’s discussion group, said: “The NLA supports the idea of tall buildings in appropriate locations. The key focus should be on quality of design on the skyline and at ground level.”