London, UK – London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has blocked plans for a controversial tower known as the Tulip, saying the structure would be of “limited” public benefit and “detrimental” to the capital’s skyline.
In a letter explaining the decision, Khan said the “proposal would not constitute the high standard of design required” and that it would “cause harm to the historic environment, the wider skyline and image of London”.
The move comes less than four months after city authorities gave a green light to the 1,000 – foot – high attraction, which would have become the second-tallest skyscraper in western Europe upon opening in 2025.
Designed by the prominent architect Norman Foster’s firm, Foster + Partners, the proposed tower features viewing platforms, restaurants and educational facilities for children. The design also envisaged a collection of rotating glass pods that would transport visitors around the building’s exterior.
But the proposal attracted criticism from social media users and heritage groups after it was unveiled in November 2018. London’s City Airport, located just six miles away, even sought assurance from city planners that the moving pods wouldn’t interfere with air traffic control systems.
Nonetheless, plans were approved by the City of London Corporation, which governs the City of London. Its Planning and Transportation Committee voted 18-7 in favor of the project in April.
But khan moved to intervene Monday, exercising his power to refuse planning permission to any proposal in the city. Expressing concerns about the impact on “strategic views”, the mayor cited additional worried about inadequate cycle parking and public spaces. His letter added that the project would result in a “poor quality, unwelcoming, unnecessarily confined pedestrian environment”.
The heritage group Historic England, a longstanding critic of the design, welcomed Monday’s decision. In a statement it described the building as “essentially a tall lift shaft with a bulge on top”, adding that the proposal would have caused “permanent and irreversible damage to…the image and identity of the capital”.
The group behind the proposal, the Tulip Project, has claimed that the attraction would welcome 1.2 million visitors a year, creating hundreds of jobs and injecting $1.2 billion into London’s economy by 2045. Despite high-profile criticism, a Comres poll commissioned by the project’s planner found that 65% of the 1,011 Londoners polled thought it would be an “attractive” addition to the skyline.
In a statement emailed to CNN, the Tulip Project said it was “disappointed by The Mayor of London’s … direct refusal of planning permission, particularly as Tulip will generate immediate and longer-term socio-economic benefits to London and the UK as a whole. “The group declined to comment on whether it would submit revised plans for the site, saying it would ‘now take time to consider potential next steps” for the project.