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City of London Corporation sees boost in planning applications

Above: Walbrook Square, City of London pre-pandemic - with Bloomberg on right, and N M Rothschild & Co HQ behind St. Stephen Walbrook church and the Mansion House to the left

The City of London Corporation has been speaking about the continued interest from investors in real estate despite the effects of the pandemic.

It says over 30% more major planning applications were submitted to the City of London Corporation during the COVID-19 pandemic than in the three years before, new figures released in March 2023 have revealed.

The City of London Corporation reported that 56 major planning applications were submitted in the Square Mile in 2020, 2021 and 2022 compared with 42 in 2017, 2018 and 2019. It stated:

'The figures demonstrate the continuing appeal of the City of London as a global business destination, prompting with developers and investors to submit plans for new office buildings which reflect post-COVID new ways of working.

The City of London is a key driver of the United Kingdom economy, generating over £75 billion in tax revenue and 12% of all UK GDP.

In 2021, City jobs reached a record high of 587,175 compared with 522,730 in 2018, with a workforce that is younger than the rest of the country and one of the most international workforces in the world.'

The City of London Corporation, Policy Chairman, Chris Hayward said:

“Throughout the pandemic we were confident that the City’s 1,000-year history as a business location was secure, and this is borne out by the planning figures we have released for the first time today.

“Global businesses continue to want a significant presence in the Square Mile, and United Kingdom-based and global developers and investors are flocking to provide a new type of highly sustainable, modern office space for these companies.

“The City of London is here to stay not just as a five day a week location, but as a seven-day a week destination. In 2023, with COVID now fully behind us, we are seeing a consistent rise in footfall and visitors to the City throughout the week.”

In 2022 alone the City of London Corporation granted planning consent for 369,449 square metres of office space, 13,690 square metres of retail space, 49,726 square metres of community, education and cultural spaces and five new pedestrian routes.

The 30 major developments were granted consent or resolved to grant in 2022 which contributed more than £78 million in public funding under Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy agreements, including £19.6 million for affordable housing.

Major developments granted consent and resolved to grant consent in the last two years included Museum of London, Salisbury Square – Law Courts and City of London Police HQ, 120 Fleet Street, 115-123 Houndsditch, Thavies Inn, a new HQ for law firm Hogan Lovells at 14-21 Holborn Viaduct and towers at 50 Fenchurch Street, 55 Gracechurch Street and 70 Gracechurch Street,

Key criteria for granting planning permission in the City of London include:

  • Outstanding sustainability credentials

  • New buildings that are designed to be flexible, adaptable and reusable

  • Buildings providing a new genre of informal, flexible workspaces

  • Developments that are more permeable, providing new public routes

  • Maximising urban greening

  • Provision of health and wellbeing, including natural ventilation, roof terraces, greening and well-located staircases

The City of London accounts for one in five of all UK financial services jobs and generates £1.1 billion in business rates for the national purse, representing 5% of England’s total business rates collection.

Below: Fenchurch Street station, City of London at night in January 2023 with offices behind


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