New London Architecture

London Tall Buildings Survey 2024: 10 Years of Building Tall

Tuesday 11 June 2024

Kate Hart


Kate Hart, CEO of EC BID Primera, discusses London's skyline, emphasising tall buildings' economic importance sustainability challenges, and role in shaping the city's future growth.

The Cheese Grater, the Gherkin, The Walking Talkie… We’re not short of affectionate nicknames for some of the buildings that have become the visual representation of London’s Square Mile. Over the last 30 years, the skyline created by the tower cluster’s tall buildings has become synonymous with London – a calling card for the City, and a beacon of economic strength and hope beamed across the world. 

Skylines stir emotions - they feature in movies, music videos, they are the must-get selfie for any self-respecting tourist, and they are home to some of the greatest views a city has to offer. Workers value them, and tourist love them. Simply ask the Sky Garden, Horizon 22 or The Look Out at 8 Bishopsgate.

And yet, there has always been a love/hate element to our relationship with tall buildings. Many (including me) are quietly proud of our instantly recognisable skyline when friends, family or work relationships based at home and abroad talk about it, we love walking amongst the buildings and feeling the hubbub of the City. On the flip side, some are quick to blame them for everything that is wrong with our capital, our economy and approach to sustainability.

In the face of the climate emergency, we of course cannot be blind to the carbon impact these towers have, but it is important to realise what an integral role they play in facilitating high density commercial activity, delivering valuable agglomeration benefits that not only support the City of London’s reputation as a global hub for financial and professional services, but power London and the nation’s economy too.

The cluster located in our Eastern City district is an internationally recognised centre of commerce, innovation, and economic growth. Despite occupying a relatively small land mass, it punches well above its weight. Covering less than 15% of the Square Mile, it is home to over 80,000 jobs with economic output in excess of £11 billion per annum and there is more growth on the horizon. More workers are returning to the office post pandemic and investment into the City is strong. GLA data shows that City job numbers should grow by 85,000 by to 2040. 

The City of London Corporation is negotiating development proposals that would provide over 500,000 sqm of much needed office space, equivalent to roughly 70 football pitches, with a further 500,000 already approved and under construction. Many of these proposals are for new tall buildings, including a proposal for one tower that at 309.6m and 74 storeys would be the City’s tallest tower to date. 

At the EC BID, our aim is to help create a more sustainable, agile City with a greater sense of social purpose and, through our collaborative work with the City of London Corporation, property owners and occupiers, we are ideally placed to encourage and foster good growth that will translate into a more sustainable Square Mile.

Our upcoming long-term public realm vision is an important step, as is the commissioning of data to allow insights-based decisions to be made, aligned with new technological advancements and area-based collaboration and coordination that will make tall buildings a more sustainable choice, boosting climate resilience while ensuring the area continues to be a thriving economic hub, appealing to ESG-conscious investors and companies from all over the world.

As the City pivots to attract new visitors, driven by its laudable flagship Destination City policy, the growing tall building cluster is increasingly popular with a broader range of stakeholders than ever before. Attracted by awe-inspiring views, often accompanied by world-class hospitality offerings, the towers have the potential to be highly flexible, multi-functional destinations, offering the best office spaces, leisure facilities, gardens in sky and the best views in the capital. Their density and design – and in the Eastern City, their height - are the key to this flexibility. 

Kate Hart


Tall Buildings



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