Skyscraper at 55 Gracechurch Street approved by City planners


A 29-storey skyscraper which could bring 700 to 1,200 jobs to a “strategic” spot in the heart of the City has got the go ahead.

It’s despite concerns from conservation groups about its impact on the skyline.

Hong Kong based real estate and investment company the Tenacity Group’s plans for the office space at Gracechurch Street, include a viewing gallery on the 29th floor.

It will also create a public garden terrace and “treetop walkway” open during daylight hours, seven days a week.

The scheme includes offices as well as retail and units for take-aways and aims to open up walkways around the tower block on Gracechurch Street.

Developers say it will bring 700 to 1,200 extra jobs to the area, and boost spending.

Tenacity CEO Patrick Wong told the City of London’s planning committee: “I believe London will remain a centre to attract businesses large and small.”

He added that despite the challenges of Brexit and Covid-19 “my conviction and long term confidence in the City of London remains steadfast.

“I firmly believe that the future of the office is not over, it is to create the right office. Covid recovery is well under way and 55 Gracechurch can be part of that.”

However, Historic England said it was concerned about the impact on the skyline and on the view from the Tower of London – a world heritage site.

The height of the skyscraper was also reduced so it would not impact on the golden flames on the top of the Monument 120m from the building.

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English Heritage also highlighted concerns on the skyline near St Mary Woolnoth Church which was immortalised by Nobel prize winner TS Eliot in his seminal poem, The Waste Land.

The City of London Corporation said it did not think there was any harm to the setting of the church.

Alliance House which is next door to the site objected to the “prospect of overlooking from the public viewing gallery – a real and intrusive risk of overlooking by new and visiting members of the public”.

Ward councillor Tim Levene said: “We must remain competitive as a city. We need to keep our building stock not only fit for purpose but future proof too.”

“This is particularly the kind of space we are looking for in the city.”

However cllr Natasha Lloyd-Parry said she was concerned about “tall building creep”.

“The area is characterised by buildings of seven or eight stories. The impact on Tower Bridge is one that is significant,” she added.

Cllr Graeme Harrower added: “The grant of this permission will do significant further harm to London’s heritage. It will compound the error made by granting permission for the monstrous Walkie Talkie building in 2006 on a site well outside the approved cluster of tall buildings. That error is now being used to to justify erecting more tall buildings around the Walkie Talkie, and extending the cluster to include them.

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