Croydon joins Britain’s super skyscraper race

Britain has seen some huge skyscrapers being built in recent years. The 1,016 ft Shard at London Bridge is the tallest of the lot, but many more high-rise buildings have been constructed across the capital and also in other cities.

Manchester, for example, set a new record for its tallest building with the 554 ft Beetham Tower in 2006. The 658 ft Owen Street Tower A, currently under construction, will overtake it next year, only to be usurped in turn by the 699 ft Tower X in the Trinity Islands development four years later. Nearby in Liverpool, several skyscrapers are planned, with the 480 ft Ovatus B set to dwarf them all, as well as towering over the 450 ft St John's Beacon.

In the capital, most would think of the City, other locations in central London or the Isle of Dogs as being the place to build skyscrapers. However, it is in the outer London town of Croydon that planning permission has just been granted for the second-tallest building in Britain.

Developers Guildhouse UK and Rosepride have been given the green light for a complex of three interconnected towers on Lansdowne Road, of 11, 41 and 68 storeys respectively. The tallest of these will rise to 236 metres (774 ft), a metre taller than One Canada Square at Canary Wharf, currently Britain's second-tallest skyscraper.

It is the second attempt the developers have made to secure planning permission for the scheme. Last year's bid was only one floor higher, but the proposal was for 917 apartments and 22,000 sq m of office space. This did not satisfy local planners, but the revised plans have, cutting down the number of flats to 794 and increasing the commercial space to 35,000 sq m.

Construction work will start once the existing buildings on the site have been demolished, and there will certainly be plenty of work for plumbers and shower waterproofing fitters over the next four years. As ever, the development of flats rather than houses means showers will be preferred to baths due to the economical use of limited bathroom space.

This is not just happening in Croydon, but all over the country. Although the new skyscraper in Croydon will not be Britain's second tallest for long - because of taller buildings being built in the city - not least the 950 ft 1 Leadenhall - the construction of strictly commercial towers in the square mile is currently unusual. Most are at least partly residential, either combining residential and office space, like the new Croydon development, or a hotel like the Shard or the Beetham Tower. Manchester's new plethora of ever-taller skyscrapers are almost all residential, bar the odd rooftop bar or restaurant.

Birmingham could also be reaching further into the sky, with a planning application going in this week for what will be the tallest residential building in the city if planning permission is granted.

Build-to-let developer Moda Living has proposed the 42-storey 2one2 Broad Street Tower, which if built will contain 481 apartments. It will also have a podium at its base containing 35,000 sq ft of commercial, leisure and retail space.

Like Croydon, Birmingham has a number of tall buildings but very few genuine skyscrapers. Just one tower in Croydon currently exceeds 100 metres in height, while only two in England's second city are this tall.