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Sadiq Khan calls on minister to reject Foster + Partners’ Tulip appeal

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The Mayor of London has asked housing secretary Robert Jenrick to refuse an appeal against his decision to turn down Foster + Partners’ controversial Tulip tower

Last summer Sadiq Khan overturned the City of London’s earlier approval for the proposed 304m-tall tourist attraction next to the Gherkin, saying he had a number of concerns about the project at 20 Bury Street in London’s Square Mile, including its design (see report attached).

However, last month the team behind the Tulip – which is led by the owner of the Gherkin, banking giant J Safra Group – lodged an appeal with the minister in a bid to get Khan’s refusal rescinded.

Jacob Safra said at the time: ‘Our investment in the Tulip offers significant public benefits to residents, workers and visitors, and will generate considerable economic benefits for the country.

‘We are confident in London’s role as a global city and in the expertise and dynamism of the people of the UK, and are delighted to offer schoolchildren state-of-the-art classrooms in the sky to appreciate London’s history and career opportunities.’

However, Khan is now calling on the housing secretary to support his rejection of the plans.  

In his letter to Jenrick, the mayor said he still had serious concerns about the proposed building, claiming it ‘would not constitute the high standard of design’ needed for the location, and adding that the development would harm London’s skyline and affect views of the nearby Tower of London World Heritage Site.

The mayor went on to say that, while ‘he had been supportive of developments, which add important office space to the heart of the City’, he regarded the Tulip as ‘an inappropriately sited visitor attraction’, which would make no ‘economic nor positive social contribution to London’.

He described it as ‘a vertical solid shaft’ that ended abruptly and that did not ‘represent world-class architecture’.

The London mayor’s refusal in July 2019 for the scheme came in the wake of heavy opposition to the proposal from Historic England and Historic Royal Palaces.

Historic England said it had not shifted its position on the skyscraper’s potential harm to London’s skyline, in particular its impact on views of the Tower of London.

Last month a spokesperson told the AJ: ‘Informal discussions [with the Tulip team] about various ideas have continued over the past few months but, as the scheme stands, we remain of the opinion that it is the wrong building in the wrong place and welcomed the mayor’s refusal of permission last year.’

Also critical of the designs, which were submitted for planning in November 2018, was the GLA’s own London Review Panel, drawn from the mayor’s Design Advocates.

The report, dated 16 April 2019, argues that the scheme did not represent ‘world-class architecture’, describing the tower shaft as a ‘mute’ architectural element.

Both Fosters and the Tulip Project team have been contacted for comment on the mayor’s latest statement.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • Sadiq who?

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  • Jenrick might approve out of sheer bloody mindedness - driven by the notion that the current government can do anything they like, combined with Safra's assurances of considerable local public benefits and national economic benefits.
    If this one flies wait for proposals to sell the BBC for redevelopment as a series of hugely profitable porn channels.

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  • Sorry, 'adult entertainment' channels.

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