Chinese firm to build Europe's tallest residential tower in London

Plans for £800m Spire London include controversial ‘poor doors’ for social tenants and private lifts for penthouses

On the eve of crucial talks between the British and Chinese over investment in the UK, Shanghai’s biggest property developer is to go ahead with an £800m tower in London, poised to be western Europe’s tallest residential skyscraper.

But with a separate “poor door” entrance for social tenants housed on the lower floors, and private elevators for the super-rich to speed to £3m penthouse apartments on the 67th floor, the new tower will revive controversy over inequality in the capital.

Spire London will rise 235 metres (771ft) on a site close to Canary Wharf in London Docklands. It promises “five-star lifestyle amenities” including a 35th-floor club and infinity pool with spectacular views over the city. But these will be reserved for private buyers, with one-bed “luxurious suites” to go on sale from £595,000.

The Spire London tower.
The Spire London tower will include a games room and an infinity pool. Photograph: Greenland Group

The affordable housing units will make up 96 of the 861 apartments, but the developers insist they will have equal access to other communal facilities on the third floor, including a creche, meeting rooms, games room, and a “music/learning/cultural space”.

The developers are China’s biggest private property company, Greenland Group, and its UK managing director said the venture was a major confidence boost for London’s post-Brexit property market.

“This important launch reflects the confidence that Greenland Group continues to have in both the London economy and the London property market,” said Wenhao Qian.

The construction of Spire London is expected to be completed in 2020.
The construction of Spire London is expected to be completed in 2020. Photograph: Greenland Group

In the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum vote, prices at many tower developments stumbled, particularly in the London area. Property websites began advertising many unfinished flats below the original purchase price in an attempt to lure buyers.

London's tallest buildings
London’s tallest buildings.

One agent,, was advertising several properties in central London for less than the original price charged by the developer. These included a three-bedroom apartment in the Battersea Riverlight development. Separately, a flat in the super-luxe One Blackfriars development was advertised for “less than the developer’s price”. In both cases, the agent said the sales were for personal reasons and not a result of the Brexit vote.

The London office property market also stalled immediately after the referendum, with many leading investment funds forced to close their doors to withdrawals to avoid a firesale of property.

However, data in recent weeks has tended to show a more robust property market emerging. House price growth picked up slightly in August, according to Nationwide.

Affordable housing units will make up 96 of Spire London’s 861 apartments.
Affordable housing units will make up 96 of Spire London’s 861 apartments. Photograph: Greenland Group

The average price of a home rose 0.6% to £206,145 between July and August, according to the Nationwide house price index – one of two monthly surveys by UK mortgage lenders. This compared with a 0.5% monthly gain in June. The annual rate picked up to 5.6% from 5.2%.

Greenland Group, which is developing four of the 10 tallest buildings in the world, said Spire London would reach half its height by summer 2018, with completion in 2020.


Patrick Collinson

The GuardianTramp

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