The Mayor of London could find himself in dispute with the Lord Mayor of London over proposals for a tall viewing skyscraper called the Tulip.

The tall bulbous tipped tower is planned to sit right next to the Gherkin skyscraper, and would be a dedicated viewing platform for the city.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) says that the proposed tower would look “incongruous” in London, and affect views of the Tower of London due to its unusual appearance within the Eastern Cluster of city towers.

However, the GLA’s main concerns is that the tower, which is a dedicated viewing platform, lacks a free viewing viewing platform. The tower, lacking any offices to rent plans to earn its entire income from visitors, but the London Plan requires tall non-residential towers have to offer free access to a viewing floor.

That regulation is the reason why most of the tall towers going up now have to have free access, which when there was limited options to look down on the city was wonderful, but is now reaching a point where there’s so many viewing floors being planned that they cannot all be viable.

Recently approved applications within the Eastern Cluster at 1 Undershaft and 100 Leadenhall, include free to enter viewing gallery space respectively, with that at 1 Undershaft also including an education centre.

Now the Tulip wants to offer the same — and charge for it.

If built, then the Tulip is expected to attract around 1.2 million visitors each year, compared to around 3.5 million visiting the London Eye, or 718,000 to the View from the Shard.

It would be fairly easy though for the Tulip to comply with the London Plan, by offering a quantity of free places each day, or simply securing an exemption as say One Blackfriars was able to.

Their hope that a floor given over to schools to use seems to be not quite good enough, as it wouldn’t be offering a full 360 panoramic view of the surrounding area, so the GLA is not impressed.

The big question is how on earth a dedicated tower that relies solely on visitor revenues can be viable considering how many alternative options there will be in London by the time it is built.

The 15 page statement from the GLA is here.

All images by Foster + Partners from the planning application.


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  1. ChrisC says:

    You can’t start an article by saying there could be a mayor v mayor dispute and then not address what the dispute actually is in the rest of the article!

  2. Oliver Gill says:

    Not the height but placing defined by historic use. St Paul’s
    dome balcony has the best views.If London was built from it’s roots, it will reflect it back. Wish the lantern allowed visits. Camberwell Rise has a fine Dome view middle of the road between Maudsley & King

  3. Alex McKenna says:

    Maybe it should be located away from the cluster? Stratford needs some kind of landmark that you can see above the skyline. Or maybe Whitechapel or Bishopsgate?

  4. Megan says:

    Sorry, Ian, but by not specifically amplifying your initial attention-grabbing statement you are failing to acknowledge that you have an international readership. Nowhere in the 3rd, 4th, 5th or 10th paragraphs is there any mention of mayors or lord mayors, let alone what the respective jurisdictions of such people might be. Most non-British people like me (and I dare say a goodly number of British people as well) would be surprised to know that there is both a Mayor and a Lord Mayor of London.

    • Duncan says:

      Actually, there are two Lord Mayor’s in London: one for the City of London Corporation and another for Westminster. Although the former is better known (particularly through the annual Lord Mayor’s Show), surprisingly the latter’s fiscal budget is significantly higher.

  5. Andrew Gwilt says:

    I think it shouldn’t be built anyway.

  6. Patryk Tokarek says:

    Another viewing platform is not necessary epecially when there’s one in Shard already.

    • Sykobee says:

      To be fair, this one would be significantly higher for the viewing platform.

      But I fail to see the need. Maybe if the max building height in London was tweaked to allow a higher building it would be interesting to build this up to, say, 1200ft, to look over the other buildings, but as that isn’t on the books I wouldn’t bother.

      I’m sure the developer will argue that it’s part of the Gherkin development, on the same land, and as such should be treated differently from a standalone development however.

  7. Liam Kelly says:

    I don’t know why we bother with services and facilities anywhere but London. Nowhere in the world,(apart from city states) do you find a country so Capital-centric as the UK. You really see the underinvestment nationwide, when you look elsewhere other than the South-East of England. From the mind boggling city differences in every aspect, from wealth to waste. It’s one of the biggest, ongoing crimes and shames, that consecutive governments, either miss, don’t care or the backhanders are to huge to miss…👀

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