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Bigger, taller, wider: London’s skyline is about to have a major growth spurt

High-rise Construction

Bigger, taller, wider: London’s skyline is about to have a major growth spurt

More than 100 tall buildings have been added to the plans for the capital city since this time last year, and the overall number of tall buildings planned for London is now over 400.

By David Malone, Associate Editor | March 10, 2016

A view of London with approved tall building proposals outlined in red. Image credit: ©Visualhouse and photographer Dan Lowe

London is a city that is packed with people, history, and culture. And over the next couple of years, it is about to be packed with a lot more tall buildings. A new report published by New London Architecture (NLA) and GLHearn revealed that since this time last year, there are an additional 119 new tall buildings planned for the city. The total number of proposed or currently under construction tall buildings now sits at 436. The report considered any building over 20 stories to be considered a tall building.

Currently, there are 89 tall buildings under construction in London and another 233 have planning approval but no on-site construction has begun yet. Many of the tall buildings are small parts of masterplans that will arrange the buildings in clusters throughout the city.

Planners argue that by building in well-coordinated clusters in the appropriate places, the tall buildings will be visually appealing and also provide much needed homes for a city that is currently experiencing a population boom. 

However, builders and planners in London may want to ponder the wise words of Bruce Lee, who said, “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” There seems to be a lot of thinking and planning going on involving these buildings, but only 19 tall buildings were completed over the past year, which is a rather large increase over the six tall buildings that were completed in 2014. Still, with plans for tall buildings brewing in the English city like vats of brown ale, the rate at which tall buildings are being completed doesn’t exactly match up with the rate at which tall buildings are being planned.

One of these proposed buildings is looking to become the tallest building in the city, or, at least, to be tied with The Shard for the title of tallest building in London. The tower, 1 Undershaft, will rise to 73 floors and 309.6 meters above the financial district streets, which is the apex of London’s height restrictions. It will be the most glaring addition to the iconic City Cluster.

Of London’s boroughs, Tower Hamlets (a fitting name) has the most proposed tall buildings, with 93 that are either in the planning or pre-application stage. Greenwich has the second most with 67, which is a huge jump from the eight projects revealed in last year’s report. The construction for these tall buildings isn’t just taking place near the city center, either, as outer London has plenty of tall buildings on the way, too. Barnet has 23 proposals and Croydon has 18.

The average height of London’s new tall buildings is 30 stories, and 60% of the tall buildings top out between 20 and 29 stories. In addition, 73% of the proposed tall buildings are being designed solely to house residential units, including the City Pride building in Tower Hamlets that will become the city’s tallest residential building.

While some worry that all of the tall building construction will turn the London skyline into one massive eyesore, planners argue that by building in well-coordinated clusters in the appropriate places, the tall buildings will be visually appealing and also provide much needed homes for a city that is currently experiencing a population boom.

The key to making everything work, according to Pete Murray, Chairman of New London Architecture, is strong communication between the planning and development community and the wider public.


Current View of Blackfriars. Photo credit: Dan Lowe


Approved tall buildings in Blackfriars. Image credit: ©Visualhouse and photographer Dan Lowe


Current view of the City of London. Photo credit: Dan Lowe


Approved tall buildings in the City of London. Image credit: ©Visualhouse and photographer Dan Lowe

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