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Tulip: appeal imminent against mayor’s rejection of Foster + Partners’ tower

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The team behind Foster + Partners’ controversial Tulip tower is set to launch an appeal against London mayor Sadiq Khan’s refusal of the proposed 304m-tall tourist attraction

Last summer Khan overturned the City of London’s earlier approval for the proposed skyscraper next to the Gherkin, saying he had a number of concerns about the project including about its design (see report attached).

Rejecting the scheme, he criticised the structure for being ’a vertical solid shaft’ that ended abruptly and that did not ’represent world-class architecture’. The mayor was particularly dismissive of the spaces around its base.

It is understood the appeal against the mayoral decision will be lodged in the coming days ahead of the six-month cut-off point on 19 January. The project is backed by banking giant the J Safra Group, owner of the neighbouring Gherkin since 2014.

The London mayor’s refusal in July 2019 for the scheme at 20 Bury Street in London’s Square Mile came in the wake of heavy opposition to the proposal from Historic England and Historic Royal Palaces.

Although Historic England said it was ‘not aware’ of the appeal, the heritage watchdog told the AJ 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.

A spokesperson said: ’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 with viewing platforms designed to maximise views out.

The panel said a potential unintended consequence of the Tulip’s design was that it created the appearance of a surveillance tower

The panel, which included Adam Khan and housing expert Claire Bennie, said a ’potential unintended consequence’ of the Tulip’s design was that it created ’the appearance of a surveillance tower’.

The reviewers also said that a building of this size and impact should be ‘carbon neutral’, and that the education strategy should be more ambitious.

It concluded: ’The panel is unable to support the Tulip because it does not think it represents world-class architecture, it lacks sufficient quality and quantity of public open space, and its social and environmental sustainability do not match the ambition of its height and impact on London’s skyline.’

Both Foster + Partners and the Tulip Project team have been contacted for comment.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Keep your nerve, Mr Mayor, in the face of an architectural vampire squid.

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  • Does Anyone want this 'thing', apart from the developer and the architects?
    The inventors of the Q-tip should sue Fosters for plagiarism.

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