London Tall Buildings Survey Seminar

Over 100 members attended the CPA’s Tall Buildings Seminar on 2 May, which saw a presentation on the fourth annual NLA London Tall Buildings Survey 2017, with research partner GL Hearn and data partner EG, with an additional focus on the City of London.

The annual Tall Buildings Survey is a comprehensive review of all towers over 20 storeys which are either proposed, in planning or under construction in London. It also looks at the impact of tall buildings, helping inform the debate about the changing shape of the capital’s skyline.

We were pleased to be joined by an expert panel who talked us through the results of this year’s report: Peter Murray, Chairman of NLA; James Cook, Head of London Residential Planning at GL Hearn; David Ainsworth, CPA Vice President and Chief Executive of CORE; and Lukasz Platkowski, Tall buildings Practice Area Leader at Gensler.

The seminar started with an overview of the 2017 London Tall Buildings Survey by James Cook, including the methodology used by GL Hearn and the trends in the number, location and use of tall buildings. He said that the decline in the number of planning applications for tall buildings can be explained by the unusual peak in applications in 2015 for the Greenwich Peninsula masterplan.

Chaired by Peter Murray, the panel discussed the NLA’s recommendation for better planning tools for the capital, such as a 3D model of London, so that strategic planning decisions can be better informed. James Cook talked about potential changes to Mayor’s London Plan around protected views.

David Ainsworth made the case for tall buildings. If located close to public transport links, he argued they can be sustainable and make a good use of land, creating high quality public realm and important pedestrian routes, whilst providing public benefits such as planning contributions towards affordable homes and school places. He also spoke about the different challenges for developers in retrofitting or building new towers.

Click on the image above to look at an overview of the report

Lukasz Platkowski spoke about the importance of the public realm and mix of uses within tall buildings to create vibrant new places, especially outside the City’s traditional working hours. He explained that compared to other major global cities London is relatively low-rise, and how even our tallest buildings have been restrained by the ‘blue belt’ around the capital’s airports.

Questions were taken from the floor on a wide range of issues, including how to create communities within tall buildings; the role of mixed-use development in the City compared to wider London; and opportunities for taller, denser development around new transport routes, such as Crossrail 2.


You can find the report here and the event presentation by James Cook here.