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The Only Way is Up - UK High Rise

Increase in High Rise Developments

There appears to be an upwards surge in high rise developments in the UK. With the population growing and fierce pressure on creating more housing in urban areas, high rise residential and mixed use towers are becoming increasingly popular with developers.

A study I found by the New London Architects (NLA) and consultancy GL Hearn reports a 56% rise in the number of high rise towers under construction in London from 2014 to 2015. The study also identified 263 tall buildings (over 20 storeys) had been proposed, approved or were already under construction.

These figures are certainly being backed up by the demand for Quantity Surveyors and construction professionals that myself and colleagues are experiencing amongst main contractors and major developers in London currently. There appears to be a real shortage in good, qualified Quantity Surveyors with relevant large scale construction project at Intermediate and Senior Quantity Surveyor level in particular.

Many construction companies in the capital describe the need for staff on multi storey residential projects including student accommodation, luxury apartments and affordable social housing.

The Rise is Likely to Continue

Already I'm seeing significant plans for ambitious high rise projects that will start to be developed in 2016, and not just in the capital. These include:

103 Colmore Row, Birmingham - 105m Mixed Use
Developers were given the green light to demolish the existing Natwest Tower and begin construction of what will be Birmingham's tallest building at 105m tall once completed.

The construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2016 and with a planned completion date of mid-late 2018. The development will largely consist of office space but will have restaurants on the top floors and its focal point will be a 360 degree view from a rooftop restaurant.

South Quay Plaza, London - 220m Residential Tower
This project is set to be the UK's largest residential tower when completed. The development was given planning permission back in March this year and the award for the construction of the core and shell of the building was awarded last month. The project will consist of 2 residential towers at 68-storeys and 36-storeys respectively.

Construction is due to commence in late 2016 on phase 1 of the development which is the largest 220m tower of the project. Phase 2 planned to start in 2018. The planned completion date for the early phases of the project is 2020. The projects slender design should make this a recognisable development situated opposite Canary Wharf. When completed the project should create nearly 900 new homes.

St John's Neighbourhood, Manchester - Multiple Mixed-Use Towers
This is a £1.3Bn planned development consisting of multiple high rise towers situated on the former Granada Studio site in the City Centre next to the River Irwell. The project is currently awaiting planning permission with a view to starting construction in 2016 if successful.

Included in the developments will be:

  • 50-storey tower consisting of residential apartments & hotel suites
  • 150 suite hotel
  • 30 Storey residential tower
  • 40-storey residential tower

As well as the above, there will be significant infrastructure work, hard & soft landscaping, smaller residential dwelling and retail units to complete the development.

UK's Tallest Buildings

Of the top 5 tallest building in the UK, 3 have finished construction in the last 5 years giving the UK's skyline a fresh new look. It seems this trend is set to continue with the tallest tower of the South Quay Development (220m) looking to take the #5 spot from the HSBC Tower & Citigroup Centre (200m) when completed.

Here is a list of the current top 5 tallest buildings in the UK:




Height (m)

Completion Date


The Shard

Greater London




One Canada Square

Greater London




Heron Tower

Greater London




Leadenhall Building

Greater London




HSBC Tower

Greater London




Citigroup Centre

Greater London




Above is just a selection of projects planned for 2016, however there are numerous equally as exciting projects currently starting construction in the UK at present and there are no signs of things slowing down just yet.

Maxim will keep you updated with the most exciting construction developments planned in the UK as they are announced, so keep your eyes peeled to our newsletter and social media sites such as Linked In and Facebook for more information.

If you are a Quantity Surveyor looking for a career change in the UK, do get in touch with one of our consultants with an updated CV so that they can contact you with exciting new vacancies.


Stuart Hackett
Senior Recruitment Consultant
Maxim Recruitment

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