London's Impending Tall Building Boom

In a study of all development plans in London, the think tank New London Architecture has found that at least 236 buildings over 20 stories are currently either under construction, approved or awaiting approval in the capital - with over 80% of these projects yet to break ground.

The study, created to support an exhibition by NLA called "London's Growing... Up!," found that 80% of the new towers will be residential, and that the areas of greatest activity were in Central and Eastern areas of London, with 77% of these tall buildings in the City of London or the Boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Lambeth, Greenwich, Newham and Southwark.

Read on for more results of, and reactions to, the study...

According to NLA Director Peter Murray (quoted in the Guardian), the study was undertaken in response to Mayor Boris Johnson's comment that - despite a housing strategy which promises 42,000 new homes every year - tall buildings won't be "popping up" all over London. Though the survey seems to contradict Johnson's promises, Murray doesn't necessarily see this as a bad thing, saying that Londoners are now more accepting of tall buildings than they were in previous decades: "I think buildings like the Gherkin – which people generally like – have restored people's faith in the ability of architects."

London's Deputy Mayor for Planning Sir Edward Lister reinforced the positive aspects of these findings, saying that "what we can't do is try to impose some kind of freeze on the skyline and suspend the capital in stasis," and architect Piers Gough stating that the new crop of towers is an indication that London is "realizing it is insanely popular and getting its mojo back."

However not everyone is so happy about the findings. The strategic director for the built environment at Westminster City Council Rosemarie MacQueen was quoted by the London Evening Standard saying: "Dramatic changes to the London skyline are happening fast and with little debate beyond individual borough boundaries. Tall buildings have a London-wide impact and, as such, need a London-wide debate."

This too is a view that NLA may have sympathy for, with Murray adding that "we need to make sure we have a planning system that really is fit for purpose."

The high proportion of residential buildings is an indication that Boris Johnson could meet his target for increasing housing output - although perhaps not in the low-rise way he had hoped for - and NLA's press release also states that the residential boom could potentially help to tackle London's housing crisis.

However, East London Boroughs such as Tower Hamlets and Newham and the South-Central Borough of Lambeth are also the areas of London most associated with the ever-present argument about gentrification in the capital; as some of the boroughs that will see the most development in the near future, this study by NLA will likely raise questions about exactly what sort of housing is being built.

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Cite: Rory Stott. "London's Impending Tall Building Boom" 14 Mar 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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