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Kal Vaughan
Kal Vaughan
  • 1 Minute Read
  • 21st January 2013

London’s skyscrapers set for a close shave

The planning permission for a dramatic new glass skyscraper in The City of London looks set for approval on Tuesday, with the areas local planning authority - City Corporation - said to be close to granting permission.

The plans detail construction of a 35-storey tower, already dubbed ‘The Scalpel’- nestled between some of London’s most iconic buildings, the Walkie Talkie, The Cheesegrater and The Gherkin - in the finance and insurance quarter.

Standing at 190m (623ft), the glass tower will house more than 560,000sq ft of prime office space, as well as a mixed-use public square earmarked for art exhibitions and performance space in Lime Street.

The building - designed by architects Kohn Pederson Fox - will serve as the European headquarters for US insurance conglomerate WR Berkley, who will be using it as a springboard for their operations and consultancy arm in Europe.

Founder and chairman of W.R. Berkley, William Berkley, told the BBC: "This major investment is a signal of our belief and confidence in London as the centre of the global insurance market."

"With the continuing expansion of our operations here, it makes sense to invest in a landmark building which will provide a strong base for that growth,"

Construction will begin this year if planning permission is granted, with a completion date earmarked for 2017. The Scalpel will stand 32ft taller than its neighbour, The Gherkin, once construction work is finalised.

The Historic Building and Monuments Commission for England, English Heritage, raised its concerns over the plans saying: “By virtue of their size and prominence, tall buildings have a wide reaching impact on the environment, and even an appropriate location and design cannot mitigate every impact.”

However, planning officers for City Corporation gave their approval concluding the project, "would contribute to the richness of architecture in the City and to the area's character in general.”

When complete, ‘The Scalpel’s’ sharp glass outline and steep angular facades will be a stark contrast against its neighbouring buildings. Situated amongst some of the most famous architectural areas in London, it is likely to act a signal of economic strength and growth.