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City’s tallest tower faces divine intervention

By James Buckley - Thursday, May 19, 2016 14:50

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Singapore-based Aroland Holdings, the developer behind what is set to be the tallest tower in the City of London, is facing a series of objections to the 1m sq ft scheme, with a local church among the disgruntled parties.

Aroland Holdings lodged plans earlier this year for the 73-storey office skyscraper at 1 Undershaft which will rise to 309.6m, crowning the new cluster of planned towers in the Square Mile and tying with The Shard for the title of the UK's tallest building.

But ahead of a yet to be scheduled City planning meeting, nearby St Helen’s Church Bishopsgate has called for the proposals to be thrown out. Writing to the City Corporation, church manager Brian O’Donoghue said: “This is a very significant scheme that will impact on the setting of these grade I listed churches and on the many and varied day-to-day activities that take place within them.

“We have been through the appication documents and have some serious concerns regarding the intensity of development being promoted in such close proximity to our buildings. The footprint of the new development is planned to be very much closer to St Helen’s Church than the existing tower on the site.”

The Eric Parry-designed scheme would comprise a 970,000sq ft development that would replace the existing Aviva Building. At 309.6m, the proposed skyscraper will be 80m taller than the nearby Cheesegrater, which stands at 224m, and will dwarf the 180m-high Gherkin.

A retail element of 22,000 sq ft will also be incorporated in the form of new restaurants, cafes, and shops.

Separately, livery company The Leathersellers, has also objected to the proposals due the “potentially adverse impact” the development could have on its property interests along St Helen’s Place, St Mary Axe and Bishopsgate.

Writing to the City Corporation on behalf of The Leathersellers, law firm Eversheds said: “There is now a real risk of ‘tipping the balance’: this area of the City can only accommodate a finite number of tall buildings before irreversible harm will be caused to important surrounding historic receptors.”

“The proposed building has the potential to cuase significant harm to the character of the St Helen’s Conservation Area by virtue of its height and form and the increasing perception of the conservation area being hemmed in by tall buildings.”

Meanwhile, New Ireland Assurance Company, which owns neighbouring office building 1 Great St Helen’s, occupied by Hiscox Insurance, has also objected to the proposals for the site, claiming that the proposed development extends beyond the ‘red line boundary’ for the application site.

“Accordingly, we would contest the validity of the applciation”, it said. “The combined impact of three 50+ storey towers (122 Leadenhall, 22 Bishopsgate and 1 Undershaft) on 1 Great St. Helens will result in an increased sense of enclosure.”

Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that looks after a handful of historic London landmarks, has also voiced its concern over the potential visual impact and “irreparable harm” the scheme could have on the Tower of London.

The proposed 1 Undershaft scheme would also include a large public square at the base of the tower and a public viewing gallery, education centre and public restaurant at the top of the tower.

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