Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 January 2020

Tulip Tower: London’s Mayor rejects plans for new skyscraper

The plans were put forward by Syrian-born billionaire Joseph Safra, owner of The Gherkin

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has rejected plans put forward by Syrian-born billionaire Joseph Safra to build a 305-metre-high skyscraper in the shape of a tulip in the capital’s financial district.

Mr Khan cited potential harm to the nearby Tower of London – a UNESCO world heritage site – in his decision to scrap the proposal.

“The proposed development of a tall visitor attraction, by virtue of its height, form, design and appearance, would not constitute the very highest quality of design required for a tall building in this location,” the Greater London Authority said in a filing on Monday.

Plans to build The Tulip, which was designed by architects Foster + Partners, were approved by a planning committee in April.

Foster + Partners said the skyscraper would be a “new public cultural attraction” that would be next to The Gherkin, which Mr Safra owns. Gondola pods would transport visitors around the building in a loop, and there was space for classrooms and shops.

Alongside damage to the Tower of London, the mayor’s office found the design did not constitute the very highest quality of design needed to be built in the area.

It also noted a lack of cycling spaces and said the area around the building would not have been sufficient to prevent overcrowding.

Historical environment body Historic England, who had previously appealed to the City of London planning committee to turn down the Tulip developer’s application, welcomed the decision.

"We are particularly pleased that the Mayor recognised the building would result in harm to London’s skyline and impact views of the nearby Tower of London World Heritage Site. This building did not justify harming London’s precious and irreplaceable heritage," Historic England said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the project’s developer said the Tulip team would now consider its next steps.

“The Tulip Project team are disappointed by The Mayor of London’s decision to direct refusal of planning permission, particularly as The Tulip will generate immediate and longer-term socio-economic benefits to London and the UK as a whole,” an emailed statement read.

Updated: July 16, 2019 04:43 PM