As part of the 2020 Londons Tall Buildings Survey, we examine the pipeline of towers due to be built in London, the 60 that reached completion in 2019, and the social, political and environmental factors that will influence these projects in the future.
Despite the political uncertainty caused by the Brexit debate, a record number of 60 tall buildings were completed in London in 2019. The evidence can be seen right across the capital - in the centre and in the suburbs. The city’s skyline has been changed forever in order to accommodate the capital’s burgeoning growth.
The current total tall building pipeline, which includes buildings in pre-planning, planning and under construction, remains strong at 525 tall buildings (just a 3% drop on 2018). However, there was a slowdown in new tall building construction in 2019 with starts at their lowest since 2015.
The majority of buildings over 20 stories are located in inner London, but the number of schemes planned in outer London boroughs is steadily increasing, now accounting for 35%. The continuation of this trend suggests that tall buildings are becoming an increasingly deliverable form of development, not limited to central business districts, and it is in line with expectations that London’s outer boroughs will need to further densify to accommodate growth.
Greenwich & Tower Hamlets remain the boroughs with the greatest number of tall buildings planned, though both have seen a slight decrease year-on-year. And, Newham continues to be the outer-London borough with the largest pipeline, at 37 tall buildings, with other new outer-London ‘hotspots’ emerging, like Ealing, with 32 new tall buildings planned. Residential remains the primary driver of tall buildings in London, and it is estimated they could provide 110,000 new homes, meeting a significant part of London’s housing requirements. Alongside this, we are seeing an increasing trend in more diverse developments, and more holistic approach to mixed-used schemes.
2020 will be a year of economic uncertainty. The closure of sites because of Covid-19 will reduce the numbers of completions and developers will hesitate to push the button on new projects. Add to that the impact the Grenfell Fire and new building controls, changes to the planning system and calls for “ gentle density” by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and this year may mark the first drop in the growth of the development of tall buildings in London for a decade - changes NLA will be monitoring closely during these difficult times.