There has been a bit of a flurry recently with high towers and viewing platforms in London. There was announcement of a tower at the Olympic Park, which courted some controversy over its design. Last week was the decision to build a tower at the RAF Museum in North London. There are also planned viewing platforms in The Shard and The Pinacle in the City of London.
Doubtless, many of these are in part inspired by the success of another viewing platform – the London Eye, although it does have the novelty of rotational movement rather than a static up down experience.
It strikes me though, that there is a location that is crying out for a viewing tower, and already has a use/need for a tower at that location.
Simply, replacing the two existing TV broadcast towers at Crystal Palace with a single structure – and add in a viewing platform a reasonable way up the tower. A substantial viewing tower at this location would be a huge boost to local tourism as people travel from the centre of town to get a ride up the tower.
Using TV Towers as tourist attractions is a well proven idea, especially when you get your mandatory ennobled architect to design the new structure. The Post Office Tower in central London was hugely popular when it opened, and its closure to the public is still widely mourned.
Naturally, building a new tower at Crystal Palace without interfering with the existing TV/radio transmissions will not be a simple task, but it is not insurmountable.
The question is – would tourist traffic cover the costs?
The Berlin tower gets around 1.2 million visitors per year at £8 per person. The London Eye averages 3.75 million visitors per year at £19 per person.
Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower cost around £40 million – but is about a quarter shorter than the existing Crystal Palace Towers. Guestimating a cost of £80 million for a new tower, a million visitors per year at £10 per ticket covers the cost of the tower in about 12 years. Add in revenues from TV/radio/telecoms and associated facilities and the cost could be recovered even quicker.
Now, who is going to make my fantasy architecture come to pass?