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London mayor rejects plan for towering Tulip building

The Tulip building was slated to be built next to the Gherkin (centre) skyscraper, but the mayor's office said it would harm the composition of London's skyline, among other issues.


THE mayor of London rejected a proposal by billionaire Joseph Safra to build a 305-metre high 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 Tower of London Unesco World Heritage Site, which sits about 800m away on the north bank of the River Thames. 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.

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.

The project's developer will now consider potential next steps, according to an e-mailed 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. BLOOMBERG