If you look out over London’s skyline today, it is still a relatively low-rise city, compared to places like New York or Hong Kong. But as space in the capital continues to decrease, the new fight for space is in the sky. With record numbers of tall buildings in the pipeline, it seems that the only way is up.
An extraordinary video created by the NLA (New London Architecture) excellently shows the impact that the new buildings will have on the city, and it clear to see how building upwards will unlock huge amounts of space for the capital.
Over 500 towers taller than 20 storeys are currently proposed for London, up from 455 when the survey was carried out in 2016. It also seems that the planning process is becoming more efficient as there was also an increase in the amount of buildings in the construction process.
However, there was a notable slow down in both the number of tall buildings completed in 2017 – down to 18 from 26 in 2016 – and the number of planning applications that fell by 10 per cent. This anomaly is attributed by the report to the clearance of planning for a bumper crop of 40 tall buildings as part of the redevelopment of the Greenwich Peninsula in previous years.
The vast majority of buildings in the pipeline are residential schemes, with a predicted 106,000 new homes on the way. London is an ever-expanding city with an ever-expanding population, as the lure of living in one of the world’s best cities attracts people from all over. As London fills up, it’s clear that in order to house everyone who wants to be a part of the city, the way that we live in London will have to change.
Living in high-rise buildings is becoming “increasingly accepted”, according to the report, which attributes the rise in tall residential blocks in part to the build-to-rent boom.
The 2017 survey showed 30 per cent of proposed schemes were build-to-rent. When the NLA began its annual tall building survey in 2013, none of the projects fell into this category.
“We continue to see a steady increase in the number of tall buildings coming forward and with London’s population continuing to increase and the demand for new homes only getting higher, our view remains that that well designed tall buildings, in the right place, are part of the solution,” said NLA chairman Peter Murray on the release of the report.
“Uncertainties and challenges to deliver these tall buildings remain, which is perhaps why we are seeing a slight slowdown in the in the number of applications, construction starts and completions,” continued Murray. “However our reports over the past five years show us in the right places, towers allow us to use the finite resource of land very efficiently.”
So where are the key areas of change?
Central London takes up two thirds of all the new buildings, with the other third in outer zones such as Croydon, termed ‘opportunity areas’. The borough of Tower Hamlets in east London is expected to see the largest number of tall buildings built, closely followed by Greenwich, due to the peninsula scheme, and then Southwark.
Earlier this year we wrote an article on the incredible rates of skyscraper construction in the Square Mile, and by 2026, it will be a much busier sky that is for sure.
Some boroughs have no tall buildings planned such as Bexley, Enfield, Havering, Hillingdon, Merton, Kensington and Chelsea, and Richmond, but the two boroughs of Bromley and Waltham Forest have towers in the pipeline for the first time.
Also in the report, experts map out the impact of huge infrastructure projects like Crossrail, predicting they will act as catalysts for development in outer areas of London such as Ealing, Redbridge and Newham.
The fight for space is seeing London expand out and rise up at record rates. Despite all of the talk of economic slowdown due to Brexit, we are seeing more and more that those fears are not materialising. London’s habit of growth is only increasing and the new homes being created across the capital will serve to relieve some pressure from the current housing crisis, allowing London to build a better and more sustainable future.