London mayor Sadiq Khan rejected plans for the controversial Tulip tower this afternoon, dashing supporters’ hopes that the Square Mile would become home to the second-tallest skyscraper in western Europe.
The 305-metre building, named for its distinctive viewing platform at the top, was planned as a visitor attraction in the heart of the City, next to the Gherkin.
It had already won approval from the City of London’s planning committee after a “lengthy and robust debate” in April, and construction was due to start next year ahead of a planned 2025 opening.
However, a spokesman for the mayor said Khan had overturned the City’s decision because of a “number of serious concerns” with the project.
He said Khan thought the Tulip would result in “very limited public benefit,” and so had refused permission for the scheme.
“In particular, he believes that the design is of insufficient quality for such a prominent location, and that the tower would result in harm to London’s skyline and impact views of the nearby Tower of London World Heritage Site.
“The proposals would also result in an unwelcoming, poorly-designed public space at street level.”
In his letter announcing the decision, Khan added the increase in pedestrian activity would case an “unwelcoming, unnecessarily confined and potentially unsafe pedestrian environment”.
‘A lift shaft with a bulge at the top’
Khan’s criticism echoes that of heritage groups such as Historic England, who have said the building would cause “irreversible damage to the setting of the Tower of London”.
Historic England boss Duncan Wilson in April described the tower as “a lift shaft with a bulge at the top”.
The Tulip was designed by British architect Foster +Partners, and would have been just one metre shorter than The Shard.
A spokesperson for the project said: “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.
“We will now take time to consider potential next steps for The Tulip Project.”
A City of London Corporation spokesperson said: “It was our judgement that the Tulip would play an important role in further realising a vision for the Square Mile as a vibrant 24/7 world-class destination and that this building would send a powerful message that London remains open to all.”
All images: DBOX for Foster + Partners