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London City Airport opposes 'Tulip' tower gondolas

the tulip

Gondolas which will move up and down the top of the proposed “Tulip” tower may negatively impact radar systems at London City Airport, the airport has warned.

The 305m tower should not be constructed until an assessment has been carried out into its potential impact on radar systems, London City Airport officials have told the authority deciding whether or not to grant planning permission for the structure.

In a letter to the City of London, the airport’s technical operations co-ordinator said: “Construction shall not commence until an assessment has been carried out on the impact of this development on the radar coverage.

“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.

“This needs to be authorised by the local planning authority having consulted with London City Airport and NATS En Route Limited.”

Radar coverage can be impacted significantly by tall buildings, as they either may prevent aircraft from being detected to prompt the displaying of false aircraft positions to controllers.

Modern radar systems with built-in safeguards to differentiate aircraft from buildings do exist, but London City Airport has expressed concern that the moveable nature of the Tulip’s gondolas could affect these controls.

London City Airport also claimed it would need assurances that the tower would not affect landing systems.

News of London City Airport’s reservations has come after technical details behind the proposed Tulip tower were revealed last week.

Designed by architect Foster & Partners the structure is set to be the City of London’s tallest tower and 1m shorter than the Shard, the UK’s highest building. Developer Bury Street Properties put in a planning application for the tower last week. It is to be used as a visitor attraction without any office space. Bury Steet properties is owned by Jacob Safra, who also owns the St Mary Axe tower in the City.

If planning permission for the tower is granted, construction is planned to begin in 2020 with the project due for completion in 2025.

The Tulip will officially be known as 30 St Mary Axe, its street address.

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