You may have recently seen an Ipsos Mori poll looking at Londoners views on housing and in particular towers. Looking at the articles and press it generated, you’d be forgiven for thinking the narrative was a rather pessimistic one and that Londoners were squarely against high-rise buildings. The client for the project was the Skyline Campaign, so it’s hardly surprising that some spin gave way to headlines that read as such; “Can a city be too tall? Londoners think so, says new study” and “High rise projects struggle to win affection of UK public“.
I’ve had a delve into the findings myself and I must admit I find the aforementioned headline hard to see, as on the whole it in fact appears Londoners have accepted towers as part of the solution to housing delivery. As Dave Hill in the Guardian writes ‘London and skyscrapers appears a rather mixed picture of acceptance and concern, with a nuanced set of responses to the survey’.
Take this question for example: What do you think of the number of towers coming through the pipeline? The headline reads 49% in inner London say too many. That may be true. But another way to look at it would be to say “actually, 42% say it’s about right and 5% say too little”. Also if we look at London as a whole, “47% say about right and another 11% too little, whereas only 39% say too much”.
Here’s another: Note how the headline reads “opinion divided”. Actually I’d say it’s quite resounding in support of towers. Everyone’s a NIMBY right? No one wants a tower in their neighbourhood or where they live? Surely not? Well, no actually. Londoners it would seem are quite accepting of high-rise residential towers close to where they reside, with many more stating they support, rather than oppose a new tall building in their local area.
Next up: “Tall buildings good for local business, bad for local area”. Alternatively you could say, tall buildings are extremely good for local businesses, very good for meeting local housing needs, also good for local people and it’s a rather here nor there issue as ‘a place to live’, rather neutral in fact.
And lastly: “Inner London most worried about tall buildings” Well, it may be true that they’re the most worried, mainly because outer Londoners are much less worried. In fact, for those living in inner London the margin of difference over 100 surveyed was just 3% stating they agree to the statement “I am worried that too many tall buildings are being built in London”. Again, arguably a rather nuanced view and rather here nor there, especially not something to be overtly worried about. Other findings reveal a far greater proportion stating they agree tall buildings make the skyline of London look better, and even more agree tall buildings make a valuable contribution to the vibrancy of London. The full survey results from Ipsos Mori are available to view here.