• Pinnacle finally set to rise

City planners have granted permission for a redevelopment of the stalled Pinnacle tower in the City of London, which at 278 metres tall, will be the Square Mile’s tallest building.
In place of the Pinnacle, affectionately nicknamed the Helter Skelter due to its spiralling glazed panel design, comes 22 Bishopsgate; though, if developers AXA and development managers Lipton Rogers have their way, we will all be refering to it in time, simply as 22.
The revised, rectilinear block design by architects PLP will be 278 metres tall with 62 storeys of offices above ground floor retail. Though 10 metres lower than the Pinnacle design it replaces, the building will still stand as the City’s tallest tower; but it remains in second place to the Shard, which stands 309 metres tall. Having rushed the design through to planning stage, construction will soon start for an early 2019 completion.
Though a part built concrete core on the site will be demolished, the new design will reuse the existing foundations built to support the Pinnacle, saving cost and construction time.
As a sweetener to the planners, and in common with an increasing number of City redevelopments, the property will provide a roof level viewing gallery that will be free for the public to access, as well as high level bars and restaurants.
Corporation of London director of planning, Annie Hampson, said: “This is a substantial high-quality tower; 22 Bishopsgate exemplifies many of the qualities we are looking for in our landmark buildings – it is elegant, calm, and open to the public … Tall buildings in the City’s eastern cluster near transport hubs are an effective way of creating the increase in office space and employment needed for a growing London.”
The design was not without its detractors, however, with objections the Royal Parks, the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Islington and the Historic Royal Palaces, which fretted about overshadowing of the Tower of London.
The reworked design will have 1.3m sq ft of office space, around 30% more than the Pinnacle, which will mostly be in practical spaces of of 20,000 sq ft per floor.
Anne Kavanagh, global head of asset management and transactions at Axa IM, said: “The City of London’s resolution to grant planning permission for 22 Bishopsgate marks a significant step forward in our plans for this exciting new development which will provide a high quality and environmentally friendly working environment for over 12,000 people in the heart of the City of London.
“We are long term investors into the City and are of the firm belief that 22 Bishopsgate will be part of its ongoing success story as an international business location and global city.”
But the City also has champions of tall towers – indeed, some think there need to be more. Bruce Dear, head of London real estate at law firm Eversheds, told the Guardian: “For a global city, London is low rise. It only has 15 towers over 150 metres. New York has 188 and Hong Kong, the high-rise world champion, has 302. So 22 Bishopsgate is very welcome. There is plenty more room in the cockney clouds. We need a high-rise revolution if London is to remain the world’s most desirable work and urban living space.”

LPA Perspective: The City doesn’t regularly approve projects that are then stillborn. But the Pinnacle, the most architecturally extravagant of the cluster of City towers, was not commercial architecture; and, lacking a sufficiently deep pocketed patron, it failed to gain commercial finance to deliver it. After much shuffling of embarrassed feet, a plan has been hatched to deliver its replacement, and it appears the design team has got their skates on, to present the project for consent so quickly.
With the esteemed names of Stanhope and Rogers in harness to deliver, who doubts the completion deadline. The pair originally delivered the original Broadgate to meet the Big Bang swiftly, importing US-style construction techniques that saw work continue with the lights going on as the sun went down. A recent uptick in demand for office space in the City – from resurgent financial and insurance sectors, as well as sectors new to the Square Mile – should ensure plenty of demand for office floors at 22.

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