The government has rejected plans for a 305-metre high skyscraper to be built near the Tower of London, saying it would be detrimental to heritage sites in the area.
Although its design is controversial, the Tulip, named for its thin stem and bulbous glass dome, was tipped to be given the green light.
The surprise decision comes three years after the planning application was submitted and two years after mayor of London Sadiq Khan threw the proposal out, suggesting it would cause “harm to London’s skyline”.
If approved, the Tulip would have become the tallest building in the City of London and the second highest in the capital, just a handful of metres shorter than the Shard.
In a letter explaining the decision to turn down the application, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities dismissed the tower as a “muddle of architectural ideas”.
It added that “the quality of design would not be nearly high enough as to negate its harm to the settings of heritage assets”.
The department, which is run by housing secretary of state Michael Gove, also mentioned that the project would be environmentally “unsustainable”, as lots of concrete would be required to construct its pole.
The government veto met with the approval of Mr Khan, who expressed his delight that the appeal lodged by the developer, Bury Street Properties, had failed.
A spokesman for the mayor said: “Sadiq has long argued that the proposed tower would be little more than a concrete lift shaft with a viewing gallery at the top, offering very little in terms of benefits for Londoners, with no new office space or housing.”
Historic England, which has opposed the project since its inception, was also pleased with the result.
Duncan WIlson, the organisation’s chief executive, said the Tulip would be “highly incongruous” with the Tower of London, and would detract from millions of visitors’ experience.
“We welcome this outcome, which will help to protect one of the world’s great historic monuments that has provided a stage for our shared history for over 900 years,” he said.
The planning application was brought by Brazil’s J Safra Group, which owns the Gherkin and the Tulip’s proposed site, and the architecture firm Foster + Partners.
Responding to the government’s decision, the developer said: “We are disappointed by the UK government’s decision to refuse planning permission for the Tulip.
“In our opinion, this project represented a unique opportunity to reaffirm London’s world-leading reputation in architecture, culture, education, and tourism.”
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