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London's Skyline Will Be Getting Taller in Coming Decade

London's Skyline Will Be Getting Taller in Coming Decade


Paul Cohen

According to a new report on tall residential and mixed-use towers in London recently released by Knight Frank, EC Harris and Barton Willmore shows how a new wave of  residential towers are set to re-define London's skyline.

The report examines the unique planning, construction and funding challenges inherent in building tower schemes, including the additional costs of building 'up', but also reveals that there can be a clear cost versus value benefit of building higher in certain locations across London's largely low-rise skyline when the tower scheme is built to the correct specifications.

Tower fundamentals:

  • The typical uplift in price per square foot in a residential tower in London is 1.5% per floor, excluding penthouse apartments. Once penthouses are included, the average increase rises to 2.2%.
  • The incremental increase in the cost of building 'up' is greatest in the 25-40 storey band.
  • There are currently 25 schemes under construction in London which include one or more residential or mixed-use towers.
  • A further 78 such schemes have planning permission.
  • Funding remains a key issue, with high levels of pre-sales demanded in many cases.
  • Despite widespread political acceptance of the benefits of tall towers, planning permission can be difficult to obtain.

A unique map of all recently completed schemes, as well as schemes including residential and mixed-use towers that are under construction or in planning or pre-planning stages across London, shows that towers are now a key feature of the city's planning pipeline.

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Grainne Gilmore

The report also highlights the factors that drive demand for tower schemes in London, before looking to the future, outlining how new sustainability rules could change the look of towers. Finally, it shows how the Shard, the highest residential tower in Europe, compares when measured against some of the tallest buildings in the world.

Stephan Miles-Brown, Head of Knight Frank Residential Development tells World Property Channel, "This is London's decade of towers: with residential land values up 20.3% in the last twelve months and a population boom, a need for the most effective use of space is evident. However, only 30% of the schemes including towers with planning permission are underway - partially a symptom of the challenging funding climate. The well-designed, centrally-located towers we will see succeed in the next few years will have a definite cachet - the clear premium for living at the top is a key driver in the development of a tower."

Paul Cohen, Partner at EC Harris said, "We are continuing to see a complex inter-relationship between land values, construction costs and sales values on many high rise schemes. The need for properly thought out sensitivity testing of varying heights, building shapes and efficiencies is key to project optimisation."


Chris Brett

Chris Brett, Partner at Barton Willmore also commented, "In a thriving city such as London, tall towers work and are recognized as having an important role to play. They allow many thousands more people to live and work in the central zone and near major transport hubs and have tremendous power to regenerate the area around them.

"We are seeing the emergence of more and more tall buildings away from the central commercial district. New developments in the likes of Lewisham, Chelsea and Hackney underline both the political support and market demand for tall buildings."


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