Tulip tower may interfere with radar systems, warns London City Airport

Sebastian McCarthy
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Architects have planned for a rotating gondola ride in three-metre wide glass spheres which would move visitors around the tower’s tip (Credit: DBOX/Foster and Partners) (Source: Foster+Partners)

Plans to build the City’s Tulip had just begun to blossom last week after developers submitted proposals for the new 1,000 ft tower, but now concerns over whether the building might interfere with air traffic radar systems have threatened to stall the project.

London City Airport has insisted that construction cannot be given the green light until National Air Traffic Control is consulted over the potential impact that rotating gondola rides around the outside of the tower could have on radar systems at the airport, which lies six miles to the east.

"Construction shall not commence until an assessment has been carried out on the impact of this development on the radar coverage," the airport’s technical operations coordinator said in a letter to the City's planning team.

"During this assessment it should be noted that the gondolas present will be moving and therefore may have a slightly different effect than a static element of the building."

A London City Airport spokesperson told City A.M.: "The aviation regulator, the CAA, has a tall buildings policy in place that, for the safety of the London airspace, all new development proposals in London must adhere to.

"However, as evidenced by the current London skyline, London City Airport has a strong track record in working with architects and the City of London Corporation to promote future development and we look forward to further dialogue with the Tulip Team."

Foster+Partners, the architects also responsible for the design of the Gherkin skyscraper nearby, has put forward plans for a rotating gondola ride in three-metre wide glass spheres which would move visitors around the tower’s tip.

If proposals are accepted by the City of London and approved by aviation officials, The Tulip will become the tallest building within the Square Mile, standing 305 metres high.

Unlike its neighbouring skyscrapers throughout the Square Mile, the tower has not been proposed with office space in mind.

Instead, the building would act as a “new public cultural and tourist attraction” to draw in visitors and schoolchildren to the City.

It is one of the most ambitious proposals to be put forward to the City of London Corporation since the historic body unveiled its draft plan late last month to allow for more skyscrapers in the Square Mile’s eastern cluster.

Foster+Partners have been approached for comment.