Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Wednesday April 05 2017

A friend, one who evidently drops by here from time to time, recently noted that I am spending a lot of time in East London.  Indeed I am.

Given that what interests me is places that are changing, and all the cranes and commotion associated with all the change, and then what they finally turn into, this map, of London “skyscrapers” in the pipeline, explains why:

image

I found that map in this report.

The reason I say “skyscrapers”, instead of just saying skyscrapers, is because I doubt whether all these … “skyscrapers” will really be of the sky scraping sort.  I suspect they’ll just be rather tall.  More like tower “blocks”, I suspect, most of them.  Or maybe something between a block and a true skyscraper.  Well, we shall see.

More interesting, to me, is that obvious hot spot there, in Tower Hamlets.  There is a London borough that is really living up to its name.  Just now, Tower Hamlets is also famous for being a hot spot of local government corruption.  There is a lot of news coverage of how former Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman was bullying people to vote for him, than there is concerning mere money grubbing.  But you can’t help wondering if all those planning permissions were somehow a part of this story.

I remember, when I was a teenager, travelling through Croydon on a bike trip I was making around London, to get a ferry to Scandinavia.  (Ah how I wish there had been digital cameras then!) And the thing was, Croydon was then a brand new tower cluster.  I was amazed, as it came into view over the brow of a hill.  It was the nearest thing I had ever then seen to Manhattan, in this then green and cautious land.  And a year or two later, a whole bunch of Croydon councillors found themselves in jail.  I remember thinking then that if crooked councillors are what it takes for a decent cluster of towers to get built, then I’m for it.

It stands to reason that planning permission is going to go to the highest (in both senses) bidder, from time to time.

On the other hand, it could just be that the whole of London wants lots of towers in that part of town.  Greenwich is also heavily involved in that hot spot, and I am not aware of any above average degree of corruption there.  Comments from people better informed about such things than I am would be very welcome.

Throughout my decades of living in London (about four of them so far) I have been feeling the centre of gravity o

Brian, while there might be a little corruption in the boroughs the primary reason they are concentrated in Tower Hamlets and Greenwich is the Mayor of London’s London Plan identifying the Isle of Dogs and Greenwich Peninsula respectively as the primary locations for skyscraper clusters. In terms of heights the NLA report, which is the Telegraph’s source, defines a tall building as 20 storeys or more. Depending on your definition of a skyscraper of the 455 buildings in the report 64 will be 40 or more storeys of which 27 are 50 or more and 6 over 60, the tallest being 75. So not tall by global standards, but for London a radical and in my view welcome change.

Posted by Alastair on 06 April 2017

Maybe there is a connection, but more the other way around.  Once it is decided to put lots of skyscrapers somewhere, the question of exactly what skyscrapers they shall be and who shall build them puts temptation in the way of politicians.

Which means that corruption is not so much what it takes, as the price that may have to be paid.

I agree that this is good.  More people living in a city increases what that city can do, and the things that one can do in a city.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 06 April 2017
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