The controversial plans to build a 305-meter-high tower in the City of London have been rejected by the government.
The surprise decision, announced by the Department of Leveling, Housing and Communities, ends a long saga of conflicting decisions over the fate of the planned tourist attraction – designed by Foster + Partners and called the Tulip – at 20 Bury Street in London’s financial district.
Ministers cited the impact it would have on the Tower of London and “the highly unsustainable concept of using large amounts of reinforced concrete for the foundations and the elevator shaft” as reasons for rejecting the project. and called it a “melee of architectural ideas”. ”.
Had it been built, it would have become the tallest tower in the City and the second tallest in London, barely five meters shorter than the Shard across the river. Its striking design included a 12-story glass dome atop a concrete pole, with observation decks open to the public, bars and restaurants, as well as slides and glass decks inside.
The decision was made by Housing Minister Christopher Pincher on behalf of Secretary of State Michael Gove and followed the recommendation of Planning Inspector David Nicholson to reject the project, following an investigation public held last November. Gove’s predecessor Robert Jenrick was due to make the final decision on the tower in September but was removed from his post.
“The Tulip proposals breathe extremes,” Nicholson wrote in his report. “The exquisite details and exquisite presentation are quite exceptional for this stage of any project. Conversely, the purpose, form, materials and location chosen resulted in a design that would cause considerable prejudice to the significance of the Tower of London, as well as other designated heritage assets.
“It would do this for the gains that a new tourist attraction would bring to the economy, tourism and education, which are relatively small compared to the city as a whole and other arrangements nearby.” Regarding sustainability, Nicholson noted that the building would not be carbon neutral.
The news was well received by Historic England. Its managing director, Duncan Wilson, said: “We have long believed that the ‘Tulip’ would be visually intrusive and highly incongruous from the Tower’s key vantage points, hampering the experience of visiting the site for millions of tourists and Londoners. ”London City Airport had also raised concerns about the impact on its radar system.
Plans for the construction of the skyscraper right next to the Gherkin, also designed by Foster + Partners, were submitted in 2018 by Brazilian banking dynasty Safra Group. Led by Brazil’s richest man Joseph Safra, the company bought the Gherkin site for £ 726million in 2014.
The tower was initially approved by the City of London Corporation in the spring of 2019, but the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, rejected the plans a few months later, saying it would result in “very limited public benefit” and rejecting the design ” insufficient “quality” and the resulting “damage to the London skyline”.
A call was made by the developer, Bury Street Properties, backed by Safra Group, followed by a public inquiry in which Bury Street Properties argued that the building would give the capital a much needed boost following the pandemic.
The developer said Thursday: “We are disappointed with the UK government’s decision to deny the building permit for the tulip. In our opinion, this project represented a unique opportunity to reaffirm London’s reputation as a world leader in the fields of architecture, culture, education and tourism.
Lydia O’Hagan, partner at London law firm Charles Russell Speechlys, said: “Gove’s decision may be a sign of tougher times ahead for tall buildings. Navigating high rise buildings through the planning system is likely to become increasingly difficult with the recent adoption of the New London Plan and upcoming taxes for developers. “