Tower block developers are pulling back from London as the cost of doing business in the capital continues to climb.

Developers submitted applications for 72 buildings of 20 storeys or more last year, 13% fewer than in 2020, according to an annual study of tower construction in the capital by New London Architecture and Knight Frank.

Last year, construction work started on 29 tall buildings, the second lowest number since 2013 and only beaten by the pandemic-hit 2020.

As well as the disruption and uncertainty caused by lockdowns and coronavirus, “build cost inflation has had an impact on new applications and starts”, said Stuart Baillie, head of town planning at Knight Frank.

Another challenge is fierce competition for development land as a result of the boom in e-commerce during the pandemic.

Peter Murray, chair of NLA, said: “One of the pressures we’re seeing now is that industrial land has become so valuable because of demand for logistics [warehouses] that there has been a complete reversal. A few years ago we were losing all this industrial land because housing was so expensive. That has now reversed.”

However, London authorities are proving more likely to grant permission than ever before. The 98 full planning permissions granted last year is the highest annual total on record.