Foster + Partners has made changes to its Tulip proposals after the Greater London Authority (GLA) raised concerns over the quality of the proposed ‘classroom in the sky’, the skyscraper’s only free public space
The GLA submitted a strongly worded objection to the 305m tower in London’s Square Mile, raising ‘significant concerns’ over its impact on the city’s skyline and its provision of free-to-enter public viewing areas.
The free space for use by London schools was ‘limited’, the authority said, also pointing out that the tower’s other functions would constrain the views of the so-called ’classroom in the sky’.
In response, the Tulip’s backers have submitted redrawn plans of the third level, increasing the proposed area for educational floorspace for schoolchildren by 65 per cent from 190m² to 314m² to provide 360-degree views.
A letter to the City of London planning authorities reads: ’This allows for two additional classrooms, providing a total of three classrooms for free use by London state schools during designated periods and providing a significant educational and social value benefit as part of the wider package of public benefits provided by the scheme.’
The document states that the amendments to the classroom sizes mean that, at 8.34 per cent, the Tulip’s ‘free and accessible’ floorspace would be larger than SOM’s 100 Leadenhall Street (1.19 per cent) and Eric Parry’s 1 Undershaft (1.97 per cent).
The changes are unlikely to satisfy the GLA’s other concerns over the Tulip, such as its height, which it said ’appeared unjustified’, and potentially could breach the London Plan.
The Tulip is facing considerable opposition from other key players, including Historic England and Historic Palaces, both of which object to its impact on the views of the Tower of London.
Opponents of the proposal, which is backed by billionaire banker Joseph Safra, owner of the Gherkin, also include London City Airport, which has concerns over its potential impact on navigational radar systems.