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London’s mayor rejects billionaire’s plan for towering tulip building

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The mayor of London rejected a proposal by billionaire Joseph Safra to build a 305-meter (1,000-foot) tower in the shape of a tulip next to his Gherkin skyscraper in London's financial district.

[LONDON] The mayor of London rejected a proposal by billionaire Joseph Safra to build a 305-meter (1,000-foot) tower in the shape of a tulip next to his Gherkin skyscraper in London's financial district.

Mayor Sadiq Khan rejected the plan, citing potential harm to the nearby Tower of London, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. He overruled the planning committee that previously approved it.

"The proposed development of a tall visitor attraction, by virtue of its height, form, design and appearance would not constitute the very highest quality of design required for a tall building in this location," the Greater London Authority said in a filing on Monday.

The Tulip, designed by architects Foster + Partners, would offer "stunning panoramic views" and gondola pods that would transport visitors in a loop around the building, according to the structure's website. The plan also includes space for classrooms and retail businesses. Construction was set to begin in 2020 and finish in 2025.

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The mayor's office found multiple issues with the project. The Tulip would harm the composition of London's skyline, confine pedestrian areas around the site and wouldn't provide enough cycle parking, according to the filing. It would also do "significant harm" to the Tower of London World Heritage Site, which sits about a half mile away on the north bank of the River Thames.

The project's developer will now consider potential next steps, according to an emailed statement.

"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," a spokeswoman said.

 

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