London’s skyline may be increasingly dominated by a forest of skyscrapers, but the era of high-rise office space looks like it may be coming to an end in 2014.

After the final cluster of London skyscrapers are complete, the City of London’s Chief Planning Officer, Peter Rees, has revealed that there are no more plans to build high rise towers in the Square Mile.

Mr Rees told The Independent, “It will be an end of an era. The development is moving toward refurbishments of older buildings and, after the current cluster of skyscrapers, we will not see new ones planned.” It’s thought that other areas in London will follow suit, and opt for refurbishment of low-rise office space, rather than new, high-rise builds.

Old Business Centres?

Paradoxically, the future office space of London is seemingly leaning towards old business centres rather than new ones. This further highlights the economic state that London is experiencing. Money is scarce, so much so, that even the skyscrapers which are currently being erected may fall short of funding.

In the City of  London, the ‘Cheesegrater’ at 122 Leadenhall Street, the ‘Walkie-Talkie’ at 20 Fenchurch Street and ‘The Pinnacle‘ tower at 22-24 Bishopsgate, which are set to be completed in 2014 are suffering from a lack of pre-let agreements and funding. Each of these skyscrapers costs in the region of £400-£800 million, which is quite simply, too much money.

Cheesegrater at 122 Leadenhall Street

Cheesegrater at 122 Leadenhall Street. Photo courtesy of George Rex

The Shard’ at 32 London Bridge Street, set for completion in 2012, has also received some bad press recently. It was revealed that the skyscraper’s energy consumption soaks up enough to power 15,000 homes. The result: London simply cannot afford to keep building such giants.

The Refurbishment Era

The first phase of this ‘refurbishment era’ is already underway, at One Angel Court, where office space will be increased by 300,000 square feet. While this type of office space may not be as exciting as the high-rise designs we are used to, the end products will still be Grade A office space. In most cases, the renovated buildings will be unrecognisable when compared to their previous facades, and therefore highly desirable for a number of industry sectors, especially large, established corporations with within the finance and investment industries.

For start-up businesses, entrepreneurs and companies with the creative sector; shared office space seems to be the future, as this is a money saving option for both tenants and landlords. Shared office space, or co-working office space encourages networking and allows flexibility and freedom, which is an increasingly sought-after feature in office space environments.

A new cycle of serviced office space

There is, however, a glimmer of light poking through the recession cloud. Estate Agents, Knight Frank, predict that by 2015, London will be able to rein in some of the profits from the business expansion that has characterised the last few years. Investments from wealthy Asia Pacific investors along with advances in technology may also mean that a new cycle of serviced office space will begin.

Locations such as Kings Cross, Clerkenwell and Farringdon will be hot spots for office space rental, as refurbishment and redevelopments are already underway. The future of office space environments also looks to be built around the tenants’ well-being, meaning that there are less workstations and more break-out areas, resulting in a stress free and more productive workforce.

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