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London’s skyscraper spree stutters amid Brexit uncertainty


The number of tall buildings completed in London fell by nearly a third last year amid Brexit uncertainty, according to the latest London Tall Buildings Survey

The survey, by New London Architecture (NLA) and property consultant GL Hearn, said that 18 towers were completed during 2017, compared with 26 the previous year.

The number of planning permissions for new high rises in the capital has also been hit – down by 10 per cent year-on-year.


‘This year the NLA’s annual tally of tall buildings shows signs of a slowdown,’ says the report. ‘This is to be expected. The uncertainties created by Brexit are causing projects to be postponed while higher stamp duty introduced by George Osborne in December 2014 continues to impact on the market.’

However, despite the slowdown, the research showed that there were still 510 towers (buildings of more than 20 storeys) in the pipeline and 115 under construction, compared to 455 and 91 respectively in 2016.

More than 90 per cent (458) of these tall buildings are residential, with the potential to deliver a total of 106,000 new homes.

According to the survey, the burgeoning build-to-rent sector made up 30 per cent of the proposed schemes in 2017, compared to none of the 2013 total.

Almost a third of the entire pipeline is in outer London – travel zones 3, 4 and 5 – with concentrations in Opportunity Areas and around transport connections, the survey found.

NLA chair Peter Murray said: ‘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 well-designed tall buildings, in the right place, are part of the solution.

‘Uncertainties and challenges to deliver these tall buildings remain, which is perhaps why we are seeing a slight slowdown in the number of applications, construction starts and completions.

‘However our reports over the past five years show us that, in the right places, towers allow us to use the finite resource of land very efficiently.’

Tb completionsgraph

Tb completionsgraph


Readers' comments (3)

  • Towers are great, but need to be used judiciously? Markers for an area? Designed to complement each other? Urban Designed? Properly planned using available and projected infrastructure? Watch out for Brentford. Old Oak Common. Brent. Ealing. Croydon. Bristol. Huddersfield. Inverness???

    And sort out the Stamp duty mess? And properly insulated without the Grenfell mistakes. We have to work together. Central and Local Government, pension funds, developers, home owners, tenants. Barbara Weiss and the covert Nimbies??

    There is still a place for medium rise and open spaces. And where are the promised New Towns? And redevelope Heathrow as a New Suburb, after the airport has been moved to Stansted and Gatwick.

    Lots of work to do guys? Especially when you look at what needs doing in the rest of the world. Help Lord Foster and his efficiency team! And will Brexit help us with this?

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    With the disastrous consequences of having built so insensibly too many mediocre towers across London becoming more and more evident to all (just take yourself to Nine Elms if in any doubt!), it is a small consolation that, finally, a first indication that this collective madness might have peaked is emerging.
    Planning applications are down, starts on site are down, completions are down, though we can still expect a horrendous new wave of completions washing over us over the next two years, the final blow to the London we knew and loved.
    The Vu-city images are an irrefutable confirmation of the new horrors that await us. London's character is being eroded more and more, and for little or no benefit, as evidenced by the current glut of empty luxury flats . Outer London's increasing efforts to 'keep up with the Jones'" by acquiring at least one tall building each, are pathetic and misguided to the extreme, and go against the Mayor's promises not to impose unwanted tall buildings on residents that are resisting them. We need to build high-density, mid-rise housing, not towers – we all know this, so why isn’t it happening? We are living in London's Dark Ages of urban planning and architectural design, governed by greed, short-termism, denial, megalomania and intellectual bankruptcy, to name a few - the next generation’s judgment of our legacy will not make happy reading.
    Barbara Weiss

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  • Is it worth carrying this forward. Barbara has said that what is required is fewer, but higher quality towers, and I agree. But she runs the risk of including all buildings in the same NIMBY boat. Planners and their running dogs find it easier to say NO than think of the future. Let a thousand flowers bloom, as Mao once said. Before commiting genocide?!

    Look at the cities of Italy. Each has a tower of some kind to tell all where they are, often built by the municipality or the church. In England we have the church towers, especially in flat East Anglia, to guide travellers.

    Can we discuss over a coffee? My telephone is 0775 398 5489, if you’d like to send me a text. I want a tower in Brentford by converting the Police Station to flats and surrounding with houses. And we are coming round to the Curve?!

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