Ten new skyscrapers are being planned for London’s financial center in an important sign of long-term economic confidence in the capital, the Standard reveals.
The developers behind eight of the tower blocks are in confidential “pre-application” discussions with the City of London Corporation, while two others have recently made formal applications.
Shravan Joshi, chairman of the city’s planning and transport committee, told the Standard: “They are all substantial buildings that will change the city’s skyline once again, or add to it.”
The applications that have been made public are for a 63-story development at 55 Bishopsgate, which at 935 feet (285 m) above sea level would be one of the highest on the Square Mile, and a 32-story tower at 85 Gracechurch. Street, next to Leadenhall Market.
The city’s aim is to ensure that the schemes are “not just for vanity” but deliver positive benefits to London and the rest of the UK.
But the 55 Bishopsgate scheme, which includes an adjacent 22-storey tower, has already drawn formal objections from Historic England and Westminster council due to its potential impact on protected views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the city skyline. city in general.
Most of the proposed tower blocks are in the “eastern cluster” of the city, which already has Gherkin at 30 St Mary Axe, “Walkie Talkie” at 20 Fenchurch Street, “Cheesegrater” at 122 Leadenhall Street and “Scalpel” at 52 Lime St. between your milestones.
All of the new proposals are at least 75 m tall (nearly 250 ft), thus meeting the City’s definition of a “tall building.”
Joshi said the number of applications this year surpassed those made in 2020 and 2021 and was an encouraging sign of Square Mile’s post-pandemic resiliency.
“They continue regardless of the macroeconomic threats that are out there,” he said. “That is a point of confidence, not just in the current state of economic affairs, but in the long-term state that the City and London provide a secure base for property development.”
He said demand was being driven by “really high-quality, Grade-A office space,” and not just from the financial services companies typically found in the City. New industries attracted to the Square Mile include technology firms, creative arts, media and education, she said. Many of the proposed towers also had secured “anchor” tenants.
Joshi declined to say whether the eight included the controversial scheme for a 16-storey tower at the top of Liverpool Street station.
This is proposed by Sellar, whose Shard on London Bridge remains the tallest building in the capital at 310 m (1,017 ft).
55 Bishopsgate would be 10 m (33 ft) lower than 22 Bishopsgate, which was completed two years ago and is currently the tallest building on the Square Mile.
Other tower blocks already under construction include One Leadenhall, a 35-storey tower north of Leadenhall Market.
A 33-storey tower for 70 Gracechurch Street was approved last year, a 150m (492ft) tower at 50 Fenchurch Street also has approval and another is proposed near Walkie Talkie.
Historic England wants the proposed tower at 55 Bishopsgate to be lowered in height. It says the current scheme would “damage both the city’s historic setting and London’s broader skyline”, in particular the views of St Paul’s from Waterloo Bridge and of Whitehall when viewed across St James’ Park Lake.
Mr. Joshi said that the City Corporation, when determining planning requests, would safeguard historic buildings while seeking to ensure the provision of the most modern workspaces.
“We have to strike a balance in the Square Mile,” he said. “We are not Manhattan, in the sense that we have a Roman history to preserve; we have heritage buildings to take care of.
“We have a responsibility to maintain that historical and cultural fabric that makes the Square Mile what it is.”
When asked about the scale of demand for new office space, he said Bloomberg’s “Pret index”, which uses sandwich shop sales figures to compare global cities, showed that London’s economy had ” come back stronger and stronger” than rivals like New York and Tokyo. .
This was supported by Transport for London passenger data showing journeys were about 80 per cent of normal, although fewer workers reported to the office on Mondays and Fridays.
The City Corporation now requires developers to consider whether office buildings can be adapted before allowing proposals seeking to demolish tower blocks to be considered.
“I think this is probably the biggest item on the agenda that we’re going to have to address in terms of planning in the world of commercial real estate,” Joshi said.
“We expect developers to come to us primarily with an update argument. You have to have a good argument for why that building can’t be retrofitted and you can’t use the existing embodied carbon to bring that building back to a commercial state.
“They have to cross that hurdle before we get into any kind of pre-application discussion about development schemes.”
Peter Murray, co-founder of New London Architecture, said the new developments were “good news” and countered perceptions that “everything had stopped in its tracks” due to the pandemic and economic downturn.
He said: “There are a number of reasons for this. One is the ‘flight to quality’: companies whose leases are coming up are looking to move into the most modern offices and improve [staff] wellness.
“This means there will be second-hand office space, which is a bit more problematic. But there’s a feeling between [property] City officials that when these new buildings are completed in five years, there will be a shortage of office space rather than a glut.
“Businesses in Canary Wharf, like HSBC, are looking at their location and looking for something smaller. Perhaps the City of London will become more attractive as a location for large corporations.”
said the 300the The anniversary of Sir Christopher Wren’s death next year would bring visitors from around the world to London.
“The City of London is very different from most of the European ‘old town’ areas, like Madrid, Rome and Paris, which are kept in jelly and barely touched,” Murray said. “The City of London has always been responsive to business needs.”