Architecture ‘worth £1.7bn a year’ to London, study says

Jim Dunton

Mipim latest: GLA research finds sector’s wealth-creation growth well ahead of the capital average

A new report on the importance of the architecture sector to London’s economy has found it is generating an annual £1.7 billion and growing at more than 7% a year.

The research conducted for the Greater London Authority – which was launched at the Mipim property show in Cannes this week – also underscores the importance of non-UK labour to the capital’s practices.

It said there were 22,800 jobs in the architecture sector in the capital in 2015 and that one third were held by non-UK nationals – of those non-UK nationals, 73% were from other EU nations.

Across the whole of the UK, non-UK nationals make up 11% of the architecture workforce.

The GLA study said the architecture sector’s gross value added (GVA) was increasing in the capital at a rate of 7.6% a year, outstripping the creative industries’ growth rate of 3.9% and the 3% seen by the London economy as a whole.

It also found that although London accounts for around one-quarter of the UK’s architecture sector headcount, it generated 42% of the UK architecture sector’s GVA.

The figures also indicated that UK architecture had a positive trade balance with the rest of the world, exporting £437 million more than it imported in 2015.

London Festival of Architecture director Tamsie Thomson said the figures laid bare the extent to which the architecture sector was a major economic player in the capital’s success but cautioned that it could not be taken for granted as the UK left the European Union.

“Our research shows that this success – including booming exports – is driven by a diverse workforce from all over the word,” she said.

“We look to the government to negotiate responsible post-Brexit trade deals if London is to remain the world’s architectural hub.”

Jules Pipe, London’s deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills, said it was “only right” that the architecture sector’s finanacial contribution to London was celebrated as well as its aesthetic contribution.

The GLA research also referred to the high proportion of non-UK students who study architecture at the capital’s universities – citing a figure of 28% for undergraduate students and 37% for postgraduates.

Additionally, it cited architecture as a driver for tourism to the capital, suggesting it could be driving up to £454m of tourist spending a year.

 

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