Our capital city is set to be transformed by residential towers
The London skyline has been a big topic of conversation in the JLL office recently, mainly due to the retirement of JLL’s Mike Tiplady. Throughout his 31 years in the firm, he had been involved in the evolution of London’s skyline, from rebuilding Bishopsgate after the IRA bombing to the refurbishment of the former BBC World Service residence, Bush House.
This got me thinking about how we in the property sector are uniquely placed for the legacy of our work to be reflected in the urban landscape we create, maintain and change.
To meet the unprecedented demand to house 1 million new Londoners, our skyline looks to be transformed by residential towers and this will be the legacy of many of us working within the construction industry.
Construction costs and inflation are clear risks to London’s planned commercial and residential projects as is the demand for skilled workers
There are 39 residential towers of 40 storeys or more due to pierce the clouds over the next ten years. In the last fifteen years we have already seen a dramatic change to the London skyline including the construction of The Shard, OneCanada Square and The Leadenhall Building, all of which are iconic but provide little residential accommodation. Further change is clear by a review of those schemes within planning or taking form on the drawing board.
London is currently 45th according to the Tallest Global Cities index from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). Hong Kong, New York and Dubai tower above London taking the first three positions but with the realisation of up and coming schemes London will sit in 17th place by 2025 - with 44 buildings over 150m, 25 of which will be predominantly residential.
However, construction costs and inflation are clear risks to London’s planned commercial and residential projects as is the demand for skilled workers. Questions are being raised about the contracting expertise required in an industry crippled by supply chain and skill shortages. And with EY (Ernst & Young) predicting that the UK will have fewer contractors and less competition as the skills and expertise required to build at height, the impact on the cost and timings of the delivery of the capital’s skyline will be fascinating to watch.
Helen Gough is head of JLL’s Buildings & Construction team