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The Tulip: ‘Sperm tower’ makes a comeback after Sadiq Khan’s rejection


The unusually-shaped tower was branded an ‘architectural weed’ by critics (Picture: PAwire)

Controversial plans for a City skyscraper likened to a giant sperm cell could be pushed through in a matter of weeks despite opposition from Sadiq Khan.

A 1,000-foot (300-metre) viewing tower – officially named The Tulip – funded by a billionaire Brazilian banking family was rejected by the London mayor two years ago due to its ‘very limited public benefit’ and effect on the skyline.

But government planning officials are expected to rule in favour of an appeal against Mr Khan’s verdict, the Telegraph reports, citing City sources.

The scheme was designed by Lord Foster’s architecture firm with the backing of the Safra family’s investment empire.

The tower, which would be London’s second-tallest building after the Shard, would be built next to the Gherkin, with restaurants and observation decks that would be open to the public

It was approved in July 2019 by the City of London Corporation, the Square Mile’s governing body, which says it would boost foreign investment into the capital and ‘send a powerful message that London remains open to all’.

But Mr Khan’s team decided it would have a ‘negative impact on London’s skyline’ and lead to an ‘unwelcoming, poorly designed public space at street level’.

Heritage bodies such as Historic England and Historic Royal Palaces, which runs the Tower of London, and some of the City’s own planning officials objected.

The planners appear to believe Londoners will actually call the building ‘the Tulip’

Graeme Harrower, a member of the City’s planning and transport committee, told MyLondon News: ‘London isn’t closed, and even if it were, putting up a Las Vegas style tower (which won’t be completed until a few years’ time) wouldn’t open it.

‘Like this statement, the City corporation’s original decision to approve this architectural weed represented a triumph of spin over sense.’

The team behind the Tulip have since offered to include an educational facility which could be used for free by pupils at London’s state schools.

An appeal was lodged with the Planning Inspectorate, an agency of the housing ministry which can grant permission against opposition from local bodies, and the final decision has been delayed since September.

Officials are said to have warmed to the project’s economic benefits, paving the way for housing secretary Michael Gove to rule in favour of it.

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