Westminster council has approved planning application for a 42-storey residential tower that has already been nicknamed the “cucumber”.

What is officially called “1 Merchant Square” comprises a 42 storey building with 271 residential flats. A publicly accessible Skybar is also planned for the top two floors of the tower.

Along with a wholly redesigned’ 21-storey sister building, the tower and its neighbour will contain 426 flats.

It was originally given consent eight years ago, but he developers have made changes and needed fresh planning approval. The main change being the removal of a planned hotel so that more flats can be fitted in.

The 490 ft-tall tower will be covered in “dark blue glazed terracotta cladding”, which if nothing else, helps to avoid the solar glare reflecting into the nearby homes on sunny days (Shard passim).

Apart from the shape and height of the main tower, the development has also been controversial for missing affordable housing policy requirements. Only 67 of the two towers’ combined total of 426 flats will be classed as affordable housing, which is not just below Westminster Council’s own guidance for at least 30% to be affordable, but also the Mayor of London’s 35% affordable target.

Although some councillors expressed concerns, they voted to approve the scheme unanimously, mainly as the previous planning approval was still valid and had even fewer affordable homes.

According to the planning documents, when planning the skybar the the client and design team undertook extensive research by “visiting a significant number of functioning skybars around the world in order to understand what made some successful and others less so.”

Which sounds like arduous work.

Although approved by Westminster Council, due to its height, the “cucumber” could be called in by the Mayor of London for approval.

Images from the planning application


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  1. JP says:

    How’s that work then? I admit that I don’t have the Act before me, but to this layman it seems a bit whiffy. Especially as the number of affordable places is barely above the halfway mark. D for effort as my schoolmaster said on and off.
    More gherkin-like than the gherkin, it will fit right in with the other highway-hugging edifices and will surely proove equally good for barge, bus and train spotting accommodation. As an added bonus, I assume that there’ll be another coffee shop or similar business at the base. It matters not, just as long as it’s somewhere to duck into when the curse of the skyscraper wind vortices get too much.

  2. DF says:

    Shocked that they continue to get away with building these tower blocks across London , they are doing nothing to help the housing shortage with affordable housing.

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