A lot has been written about the recession that the United Kingdom has experienced, and the effect it has had on construction and property development, but what about tall buildings?
We took a look at our database to see how many projects were proposed in 2010 in the U.K, and how this compared to previous years. Just to qualify what we mean by tall building, this is a rather broad definition instead of the skyscrapers you may imagine. For residential buildings these would typically be over 12 floors, and for office buildings these would be over 10 floors encompassing groundscrapers as well as gherkins. With the other various buildings thrown in this meant we ended up with a sample size of 1,723 projects.
In this we're looking at proposals, not construction. This is a wider measure of the UK property market and will include speculative projects, but all of these are economic indicators of health. It goes without saying too that if no scheme is proposed it will not be built so one can see the potential for future development from these figures - it is what many industry figures dub the "development pipeline".
The figures for this are interesting to say the least with our index on activity showing that UK-wide things peaked in 2008 with a score of 17,611. This was barely changed from 2007 where it was 16,779 and 2006 where it totaled 16,671. As one would expect there was a precipitous drop in 2009 to 9,103 and then again last year to 5,790.
As big as this drop is, a good two thirds from the peak, there are major differences between activity in London and the rest of the UK. London maxxed out in 2008 at 12,107 and then fell to 6,765 in 2009 and 5,216 in 2010. If you subtract the Olympics then London is still seeing proposal activity rivaling most years of the last decade helped by its position as a leading world city.
Activity outside London actually peaked back in 2006 with 10,592 points driven above all by activity in Leeds and Manchester, and then fell from there to 8,758 in 2007, 5,503 in 2009 and 573 in 2010. That score of 573 represents less than a dozen proposals for the entirety of the United Kingdom outside London showing just how badly the business has been hit by the recession. Words like apocalyptic would not be an understatement.
Sadly things are looking little better this year, but there are a few glimmers of hope. Projects that were stalled like Adelphi Street in Salford are starting to get less bling and more commercially viable designs proposed for them again, but we are a very long away from the heady boom of the noughties.