September 19, 2008
Leading planning lawyer Pinsent Masons has suggested developers of tall buildings in London should use the British Property Federation’s latest research on tall buildings to support their planning applications.
The independent report compiled by researchers Colin Buchanan found a range of benefits through modelling the agglomeration effects of high density development. These included a more productive workforce, knowledge spill-over, increased business specialisation and general economies of scale.
It concluded that relocating just 80,000 jobs within London to more accessible high density locations would increase output by £206 million annually, or £2,500 per worker. The report explained that these benefits would be sensitive to location and can only realistically be achieved around existing transport hubs, with capacity for absorption or expansion and where density is already high and land scarce. That means, in practice, building upwards.
Daniel Drukarz planning partner at international law firm Pinsent Masons said: “The economic arguments in favour of well located tall buildings in central London have now been fully established by the latest BPF research. This report is likely to be relied upon by developers looking to provide tall buildings in London and as planning lawyers we would strongly encourage them to do so.”
Although employment density is not particularly high in the UK, (London has 250,000 employees per sq mile compared to more than 600,000 in mid town Manhattan) London’s dense economic area is seen as a key factor behind its economic performance, estimated at 38% higher than the UK average. This greater marginal output is worth some £45 billion a year to UK plc, around 5% of the UK’s total output.
Drukarz added: “When considering the question of economic impact the report will certainly provide food for thought for the new Mayor who is known to be luke warm in support of tall buildings.”
While the ‘green’ benefits of high density buildings – reduced land take, more green spaces for other uses, reduced personal travel, better use of public transport – are relatively well known, the economic impact of such buildings is far less understood and has, to date, attracted much less attention.