The Tulip, London: Government throws out controversial plans for 1,000ft tower

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The Tulip, London: Government throws out controversial plans for 1,000ft tower
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Controversial plans for the 1,000ft Tulip tower in the City of London have been thrown out by the Government.

Ministers rejected the project citing “carbon emissions during construction” and the impact it would have on the Tower of London among the reasons.

Architects Foster + Partners and developer Jacob J Safra first submitted proposals for the 300-metre-high viewing platform and “classroom in the sky” near the Gherkin in 2018.

They were were approved by the City of London Corporation, before being blocked by City Hall last year.

Mayor Sadiq Khan branded it a “poorly designed” mega-project, which would give “very limited public benefit” to London. But developers appealed to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate for a final decision.

They forecast that 1.2 million people a year would visit the slender tower and insisted that the “bud” at the top would boast 12 publicly accessible storeys, including a viewing platform with rotating pods, a restaurant and sky bar and an entire floor dedicated to education facilities.

The Tulip would have been London’s highest viewing platform at almost 1,000 ft above the City (DBOX/Foster + Partners)
The Tulip would have been London’s highest viewing platform at almost 1,000 ft above the City (DBOX/Foster + Partners)

However, in a report published on Thursday, planning inspector David Nicholson said the design would cause considerable harm to views of London’s world famous heritage sites, including the Tower of London and various surrounding churches.

Its proximity, height and material would have a particular negative impact on the White Tower, which has become the most recognisable castle keep in the world.

The report adds that the building’s odd shape would also not be in keeping with the rest of the capital’s skyline.

“Its relatively slender form, with a broader top, would be quite at odds with, and stand out from, its office neighbours, all of which are vertical or tapering from much larger bases,” the report states.

“This would have two effects: first, from a distance, only the stem and flower of the Tulip would be visible above other buildings in the cluster, making it appear less grounded; second, it would stand out as different and less cohesive, reducing its association with the overall cluster.”

Housing minister Christopher Pincher, on behalf of Secretary of State Michael Gove, said he agreed with the report, putting an end to years of planning wrangling.

The report states: “The Secretary of State has carefully considered the inspector’s assessment.

“He agrees with the inspector that on the walk across Tower Bridge, the Tulip would appear to move right the way through the airspace behind the White Tower and this would be highly apparent and intrusive to the viewer.

“He further agrees that the open sky around the White Tower would be severely affected by the Tulip; the extent to which its height and location would detract from the [Tower of London] would be significant; and it would disrupt the sensitive balance between the City and the world heritage site.”

A spokesman for the Mayor said: “Sadiq has long argued that the proposed tower would be little more than a concrete lift shaft with a viewing gallery at the top, offering very little in terms of benefits for Londoners, with no new office space or housing.

“He is disappointed the case went to appeal in the first place, incurring unnecessary costs to the taxpayer.”

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