London Mayor vows to fight Tulip appeal, assembles $450k war fund

Tulip Mania

London Mayor vows to fight Tulip appeal, assembles $450k war fund

The Tulip’s glass observatory enclosure would features Ferris wheel-like pods on the outside that would move on a track. (DBOX/Foster + Partners)

Less than a month after developer Jacob J. Safra filed an appeal to keep the possibility of erecting the Foster + Partners-designed Tulip tower in London alive, Mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged to keep fighting.

Mayor Khan had originally rejected the proposal in July of last year and dismissed it as “poorly designed.” That came after the Greater London Authority (GLA), the agency responsible for enforcing the London Plan, which dictates sustainable growth in the city, dinged the tower. At the time, the GSA cited the 984-foot-tall Tulip’s design—which would balance a 12-story glass observation pod atop a hollow concrete stem—as inappropriate, and the potential for the building to block historic sightlines. They also raised the issue of the Tulip’s base, which would consist of an incongruous two-story retail podium.

With the appeal, Safra, founder of the J. Safra Group, which also developed the Foster + Partners-designed Gherkin at the neighboring 30 St Mary Axe, will have the case heard before Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick or another government minister.

Rendering of a concrete tower, the Tulip, sloping to the ground
The proposed base of London’s Tulip tower, which would contain a two-story visitor’s entrance hall. (DBOX/Foster + Partners)

However, as BDonline notes, Khan already wrote to Jenrick last week to voice his displeasure, and has amassed a $450,000 “war chest” for the GLA to fight the appeal with. BDonline has broken out the costs, but Khan has allocated nearly $200,000 for the leading counsel (legal advice) and another $77,000 for architectural consultation.

In his letter to Jenrick, Khan reportedly wrote, “The Tulip is an inappropriately sited visitor attraction, which would make no such economic nor positive social contribution to London that would outweigh its harm to a world heritage site, the City’s skyline, and the public realm at ground level.” This echoes the reasoning Khan gave when he used his veto powers to stop London’s Planning and Transportation Committee from greenlighting the project, despite their earlier approval.

The J. Safra Group is also funding an educational facility inside The Tulip's observation bud.
The J. Safra Group is funding an educational facility inside The Tulip’s observation bud. (DBOX/Foster + Partners)

No hearing date for the appeal has been set yet, but the battle over the Tulip’s approval is shaping up to be a long one.