London now has more than 500 tall buildings in the pipeline and a record 115 under construction, according to new research published by New London Architecture.
The fifth NLA London Tall Buildings Survey, with research partners GL Hearn and data provider EG – launched on the 9th floor of TH Real Estate’s offices at 201 Bishopsgate – showed that despite signs of a slowdown, London has 510 tall (over 20 storeys) buildings proposed, in planning or under construction, compared to 455 in 2016, and with 115 schemes under construction compared to 91.
The analysis suggests that living in tall buildings is becoming more accepted, with over 90% (458) of those coming forward residential, and with the potential to deliver some 106,000 homes. And data from EG shows that 30% of the proposed schemes in 2017 were Build-to-Rent compared with none in 2013.
At the launch, New London Architecture chairman, Peter Murray, said that the appetite for tall buildings remains strong and we still need them as part of the equation of housing London’s growing population. EG senior analyst Paul Wellman added that this was despite comparing this year’s crop to the ‘exceptional’ data in 2016, when more than one tower was coming out of the ground every week. This year, completions were down, and there were more hotels and student living schemes.
Half of the tall buildings pipeline is in East London with 252, followed by Central London with 99, and a third from outer London, although it is taking longer for projects to get off the ground and the number of applications is down 10% from 2016. GL Hearn planning director Stuart Baillie said he was anticipating a boom of completions in the next two years, but with Brexit and skills issues to the fore, that may be optimistic. ‘We will have to see if the projected boom in the next two years will happen’, he said.
Other speakers included Shaun Tate - director of High Rise Solutions at Mace, who showed how the firm is looking to ‘smarter solutions’ including its rising factory and new construction techniques which can cut transport by 40% and waste by 75%, and Simpson Haugh Partner Rachel Haugh, who showed the practice’s One Blackfriars scheme and stressed the need for design quality to ‘encourage change’ and to ‘be bold and proactive’ for such a world city. Croydon’s Heather Cheesbrough said her borough had shown how it is ‘very keen to have buildings but they have to be well designed and they have got to work’, even if she shed some doubt over whether the 68- and 41-storey One Lansdowne Road project will ever be delivered. The Menta Tower (Morello), meanwhile, is going to committee tomorrow night, redesigned as two ‘more deliverable’ 25 storey towers, she revealed, after the 56-storey version was granted permission several years ago. And GIA senior partner Gordon Ingram showed how new advances in modelling techniques can allow designers and the public to get a better handle on how and where their city is changing, following NLA's calls for a 3D model for the city.
Peter Murray said: ‘NLA has long been calling for a 3D model of London to enable developers to place virtual images of their proposed buildings into a wider model of the capital so that developers, planners and the public can more fully understand their impact. We have looked at all of the available systems and are pleased to be working with VU.CITY, whose London model is the largest, most accurate digital model in the world. We urge architects and developers to upload their projects to VU.CITY - a service that is free of charge - so that it can provide London with the tool it needs for better planning and decision making.
By David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly
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