Wednesday 17 July 2019 4:20 am

DEBATE: Was Sadiq Khan right to reject plans for the Tulip tower?

and Tessa Laws
Tessa Laws is a partner at Acuity law.

Was Sadiq Khan right to reject plans for the Tulip tower?

Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat member of the London Assembly, says YES.

I seriously disagree with Sadiq Khan on many subjects, but on this issue I think he is right.

Innovative and challenging designs of buildings are of course important, but we should never forget that the London skyline is something that we all have to experience, and the views of all Londoners need to be considered. It is not an issue where an architect and developer should be able to trump the public interest.

The vital need to protect important views, including that of the Tower of London World Heritage site, cannot be overlooked.

Boris Johnson wanted to proceed with the Garden Bridge despite the fact that it would have impacted on views of St Paul’s Cathedral for people on the South Bank. This foolish scheme fortunately did not go ahead, although in his arrogance in proceeding with the project he wasted millions of pounds of public money.

And thankfully, it seems that a further blight on London’s skyline has been halted without taxpayers’ money being wasted.

Tessa Laws, a partner at Acuity Law, says NO.

London has long been a beacon for innovation and culture, embracing immigration and openness for centuries. Its skyline is a fabulous cornucopia of architecture and design, and reflects the capital’s gloriously mixed population and the openness of the City.

Against this backdrop, I think the design of the Tulip tower would have been an innovative creation that enhanced the skyline and added more diversity to the City’s architectural landscape.

When the London Eye first graced the river, negativity abounded – yet the benefits soon outweighed any cons, and what was envisioned as a temporary attraction remains fabulously successful today. Same for the Millennium Dome.

The Tulip tower would have been the second highest building in western Europe; it would have helped the City to “flower” at the weekends; it would have attracted tourists from within and without the UK.

Britain was at the forefront of the industrial revolution. As a world leader, we should continue to hold the beacon in modern times every which way possible if we want to continue to attract talent, business, imports, and inward investment.

Alas, this time we have chosen not to.

Main image credit: DBOX for Foster + Partners

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