When Foster and Partners published their plan to build a long, space-age stalk of a building in the City last autumn, reaction ranged from horror to cries of joy. The Tulip, as the planned structure is known, promises a bulbous viewing spot over 300 metres tall looking down at the Gherkin next door. There are hopes that it will attract more visitors to the Square Mile. Maybe one day it will, but it will first need to clear some barriers at City Hall.
A project this large has to be referred to the London Mayor, initially in the persons of the GLA Planning Unit. They have raised a number of objections. The first one listed in their stage one report is the failure of the proposal to “provide free-to-enter publicly accessible viewing areas,” putting it at odds with both the current London Plan (produced under Boris Johnson) and Sadiq Khan’s draft new one. The Tulip is further described as potentially compromising appreciation of the Tower of London, a World Heritage Site, and causing “harm to the historic environment”.
Then there’s the design of the mighty flower. “The height appears unjustified,” says the report. “The site layout and loss of public realm at street level is also of significant concern.” In addition, certain “strategic views” would be harmed and the plans would not reflect the Mayor’s “healthy streets” strategy, the GLA officers say. Each of these points are elaborated at some length.
In response to the report, a spokesperson for The Tulip project said: “We are pleased to see that the Mayor of London considers the use of a visitor attraction as complementing the City. We welcome the detailed technical comments by GLA officers and, as part of the ongoing planning process, we will continue to work closely with the City of London Corporation and the GLA to resolve those matters raised and to improve the package of public benefits associated with the Tulip.”
Watch this space.
Updated on 29 January 2019 to include The Tulip Project response.