April 18, 2018 / 5:07 PM / 6 months ago

London's skyline soars with more than 500 skyscrapers in pipeline

LONDON, April 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The number of high-rise buildings being planned or built in London has risen above 500 for the first time as a trend to build skyscrapers in the British capital spreads into the suburbs, research showed on Wednesday.

A total of 510 towers were in the pipeline in 2017, up 12 percent from 2016, according to a survey of buildings at least 20 storeys high by New London Architecture, a forum that provides information about planning and development in the city.

London is experiencing a housing crisis as homebuilding has not kept pace with demand, driving up property prices, with rents rising faster than wages and homelessness soaring.

“With London’s population continuing to increase and the demand for new homes only getting higher, our view remains that well designed tall buildings, in the right place, are part of the solution,” said Peter Murray, the forum’s chairman.

Even though London’s skyline is soaring, high-rise buildings are still less dominant in the capital than in other major cities like Hong Kong or New York. Direct comparisons are difficult as cities have different definitions of skyscraper.

More than 90 percent of the new towers are residential and could deliver 106,000 homes, the report said.

A record number 115 projects are under construction, more than two-thirds of which are in inner London, it said.

Tall buildings are also becoming a feature of the suburbs, with towers completed outside the city centre last year in Lambeth, Battersea and Greenwich in south London and Poplar in the east of the city, the report said.

Only seven out of 32 London boroughs - Bexley, Enfield, Havering, Hillingdon, Kensington & Chelsea, Merton and Richmond - have no plans for new skyscrapers.

That scenario that is expected to change as the Elizabeth Line, a new train line stretching more than 60 miles (97 km) from west through central London to the east of the capital is expected to open next year, the report said.

The safety of high-rise buildings has come under scrutiny after a fire killed more than 70 people in the Grenfell tower in west London last June.

$1 = 0.7027 pounds Reporting by Astrid Zweynert @azweynert, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org

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