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London soaring

by Phoebe Liu on May 14, 2015 in Architecture
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The nighttime cityscape of the British capital is set for increasing change as more tall
buildings complete over the following decades (© Shangri-La Hotel)

The nighttime cityscape of the British capital is set for increasing change as more tall buildings complete over the following decades (© Shangri-La Hotel)

The British capital is riding the wave of a construction boom, with 236 new towers and 14,800 new homes in the works — good news for a city which is facing an all-time population high of 8.6 million people and a continuing housing crisis

As London faces an all-time population high of 8.6 million people and a continuing housing crisis, New London Architecture (NLA) and GL Hearn have  released the results of their annual London Tall Buildings Survey, which reveals that 263 tall buildings over 20 storeys in height have been proposed, approved or are under construction within Greater London.

"London remains a generally low-rise city, but with the capital set to be home to 10 million people by 2030, there is no doubt that sensibly managed and well-designed tall buildings, which sit well within their surroundings, have a key role to play in meeting the challenge of our rapidly increasing population," says deputy mayor of London for policy and planning Sir Edward Lister.

Lister says the authorities are working closely with the various boroughs to identify the best locations for clusters of tall buildings. "It is this strategic approach, combined with robust planning rules, the requirement for top quality design and rigorous scrutiny, that will ensure the capital maintains and enhances its leading world city position alongside a dynamic and evolving skyline," he adds.

Construction cranes dot London's skyline, which is still a pleasing mix of old and new, with St Paul's Cathedral to the left and Renzo Piano's The Shard providing a startling contrast with its sharp angles

Construction cranes dot London's skyline, which is still a pleasing mix of old and new, with St Paul's Cathedral to the left
and Renzo Piano's The Shard providing a startling contrast with its sharp angles

East, central and south London will see the biggest rise in tall buildings, with 93 per cent of all towers under construction and 96 per cent of this year's planning applications, in line with the Greater London Authority's opportunity areas for large-scale development. "If London doesn't grow up, it will need to grow out. London clearly has a healthy pipeline of tall buildings, but delivery on the ground has yet to really lift off," says Shaun Andrews, head of London strategy at GL Hearn.

Many of the current projects are comprehensive developments with multiple towers in opportunity areas and other zones where high-rise buildings are being supported. However, Andrews noted that major schemes currently take an average of 8.3 months to go through the planning system and then six years to reach completion after permission is granted. "This defies the concerns of some that tower permissions are being given away," he stresses.

This is a preview of the "London soaring” article from the May 2015 issue of Perspective magazine.

To continue reading, get your copy of Perspective.

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