London Property Update

It seems no matter where you go in London, a tall building development scheme is either under construction or being prepared for development. So it should not be a surprise that a recent New London Architecture report indicates that the number of tall buildings to be built in London, mainly for residential tenants, is to continue well into the future.

I came out of the London Bridge rail station the other day and in the shadows of the 95 floor glass behemoth The Shard is a new residential tower under construction. The building is expected to have over 180,000 square feet spread over 26 floors with 148 high-end apartment units. The buildings plans were approved in 2014 by the Southwark Council.

The Business Insider describes the development: ‘It’s going to be designed by Renzo Piano, the architect behind The Shard as well as structures such as Rome’s Parco della Musica and The New York Times Building, and led by the Stellar Property Group (SPG) and Qatari Diar, a subsidiary for the country’s sovereign wealth fund.’

Other well-known property developments near completion are the Battersea Power Station regeneration in South London. There was a time when arriving by rail into Victoria Station that the building was in full view for all to see but today the building is surrounded by new glass and steel apartments with only a few minor glimpses of the iconic building left to be seen.

NLA Tall Buildings Survey

A recently released report for 2018 by New London Architecture and GL Hearn’s Annual Tall building Survey, shows that demand for tall building construction is robust with: ‘… now 510 tall buildings in the pipeline, up from 455 in 2016.’

Over 90% of the tall buildings coming on the market are for residential living and as a result: ‘Around 106,000 homes could be delivered for London by these tall buildings.’

The analysis shows that 120 tall buildings over twenty stories tall have come to market within the past four years.

The report cites a record amount of building schemes at 115 are under construction even though the number of building applications has decreased by 10% since 2016.

New London Architecture says: ‘Political and economic uncertainty, mainly due to Brexit, appears to have had a small impact.’

‘The rate of applications is down 10% from 2016 and 35% from 2015, although this was a bumper year due to the application of Greenwich Peninsula for over 40 tall buildings. If you take this away the number has been relatively consistent since 2013.’

Previous new builds over twenty stories were in the City or Docklands business districts, but now almost a third of the new towers will be built on the outskirts of London in tube zones three, four and five.

Locations such as Bromley and Waltham Forest are now planning for tall buildings developments for the first time, leaving only the boroughs of Bexley, Enfield, Havering, Hillingdon, Merton, Kensington and Chelsea, and Richmond out of the tall building market for now at least. It is expected with the opening of the Elizabeth Line in December 2019 to bring more interest to these locations for new residential towers.

Peter Murray, Chairman of New London Architecture says: “We continue to see a steady increase in the number of tall buildings coming forward and with London’s population continuing to increase and the demand for new homes only getting higher, our view remains that that well designed tall buildings, in the right place, are part of the solution.”

‘Uncertainties and challenges to deliver these tall buildings remain, which is perhaps why we are seeing a slight slowdown in the in the number of applications, construction starts and completions.’

‘However our reports over the past five years show us in the right places, towers allow us to use the finite resource of land very efficiently.’

Latest Residences

 While only 18 towers were completed in London for 2017, new ones have come on the market.

The first is Vauxhall Sky Gardens in the Battersea and Nine Elms opportunity area. The plans were awarded the Housing Project of the Year by The Sunday Times in 2014 when construction began. The property features 36 floors with 1 and 2 bedroom apartments each having a winter garden and 24 hour concierge service. Prices in 2017 started at £618,000 for 546 square feet to £1,125,000 for 776 square foot units.

Also coming to market in Battersea SW11 for 2017 was Lombard Wharf by Patel Taylor architects with prices starting for 1,2 & 3 bedroom homes from £830,000 to £3,995,000. The premium two-bedroom apartments units have 180° views of the London city skyline and the River Thames with 410 sq ft wraparound terraces. Prices for this unit are from £1,195,000. Nearby is the Battersea Village Square for shopping and dining.

The Chelsea Waterfront by Sir Terry Farrell, close to Kings Road with 600 metres of river frontage and Lots Power Station. The two residential glass towers of 35 and 37 storeys features shops, restaurants, bars and a health and fitness club. Floorplans available for 2 to five bedrooms are priced at Rightmove at £1.4 million to £14 million. First release for units was mid 2017, total development is expected for completion by Q1 2019.

For the Stratford E20 area of London is the £300 million Manhattan Loft Gardens by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with a new tower expected in 2020 in Newham. The property will feature 42 storeys with 248 Apartments, 146 hotel rooms along with leisure facilities, swimming pools, roof garden and spa with views of Olympic Park. Initial price ranges in 2017 started from £495,000 studio flats to £15m penthouses.

Construction is planned to begin in 2019 for the world’s tallest modular towers in Croydon, London at 101 George Street by Greystar Real Estate Partners and Henderson Park. The plans were approved by the Croydon Council last November for the £1.4 billion regeneration scheme that will feature two towers at 38 and 44 storeys that includes:

‘The new shopping center is at the heart of around $738bn (£5.25bn) of planned major investments into Croydon which include 2m sq ft of new Grade A office space, new residential developments and eight hotels, as well as Croydon Council’s infrastructure improvement programme; all helping drive new residents, visitors and businesses to the town centre.’

Christy Hayes, CEO of Tide Construction Ltd., says: “The towers of 101 George Street will stand tall as testimony to the potential of modular construction within the UK and beyond. Building high quality homes faster, and with less disruption to the local area, is of paramount importance in such a fast-evolving area of south London. Modular construction is highly suited to rental developments as investors and operators can welcome residents into their homes sooner and open the revenue streams earlier.”

Croydon has become one of the fastest growing areas in the UK with an annual growth rate of 9.3% and is popular with tech firms and other startup businesses.

By Kevin Murphy: