© Jason Hawkes

London is a relatively low-density city if compared with other European capitals such as Paris and Madrid. Yet, the increasing pressure to accommodate a growing population, expected to reach over 11 million people by 2050, and the commitment to contain the sprawl within the Green Belt, prompts the need to re-think how to make better use of the scarce amount of land available – ‘if we can’t build out, we need to build up’.

In the Insight Study ‘London’s Growing UP!’, the first NLA annual London Tall Buildings Survey published in 2014, it was showed for the first time how some areas of London were seeing an increasing number of tall buildings of 20 stories or more as a response to densification, with 236 towers in the pipeline. At the same time, concerns have grown, from both local communities and professionals, over the quality of design of these new towers, as well as on the need to protect London’s rich historic heritage, with questions related to where new clusters of tall buildings would be appropriate.

With latest figures showing a continued growth of the pipeline, up to 455 in 2017, challenges on the planning system are increasing: Do we have the appropriate tools to ensure tall buildings are in the right place, of good quality and contribute to housing need? How tall buildings contribute to the streetscape, providing good quality public realm as part of their developments? Should we develop a 3D digital planning system for the whole of London to improve the assessment and impact of tall buildings? 

The pioneering role of NLA research on tall buildings delivers up-to-date figures and analysis and a year-round programme inviting industry experts and the public to discuss one of the capital’s most debated topic. 

Key themes

  • London’s Tall Buildings pipeline - annual update
  • Densification of town centres in outer London / new tall buildings clusters
  • Smart planning and 3D models for tall buildings
  • Design quality and streetscape’s impact of tall buildings

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  • London's Growing Up! Exhibition, April-June 2014


  • NLA London Tall Buildings Survey 2017, March 2017
  • NLA London Tall Buildings Survey 2016, March 2016
  • NLA London Tall Buildings Survey 2015, March 2015
  • London's Growing Up!, April 2014


  • Tall Buildings

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Tall storeys


The NLA has welcomed news that the GLA is looking at creating a virtual three-dimensional London-wide model to inform developers, architects and communities about the tall buildings they can expect to see. And the new London Plan provides a key moment to commission this. But the city stands on the cusp of a ‘paradigm shift’ in how they can contribute to the housing crisis through providing more rented rather than bought apartments.


NLA London Tall Buildings Survey 2017


Each year the NLA London Tall Buildings Survey has generated a healthy debate about the benefits, as well as the negative impacts, of tall buildings. It has given a voice to those that propose them as well as those that are more critical. At NLA we remain of the view that in a growing city, well designed tall buildings in the right place are appropriate, a view reiterated by the Mayor of London at his Question Time on March 23.


Tall Buildings


Following pioneering research conducted by NLA and GL Hearn in 2012, now ongoing, this film illustrates how London's skyline is changing as the capital is developed more densely in order to meets the demands of the growth in population.