City of London,

20 Fenchurch Street FAQ

20 Fenchurch Street (“the Walkie Talkie”) FAQ

20 Fenchurch Street, otherwise known as “The Walkie Talkie”, is a skyscraper in the City of London. The City of London Corporation is the relevant planning authority. The Planning & Transportation Committee has authority to grant or refuse planning applications.

What is a Section 106 agreement?

A section 106 agreement is an agreement imposing requirements on the owner of a development, such as allowing public access to the building.

What is a Visitor Management Plan?

The Visitor Management Plan is required by the 20 Fenchurch Street section 106 Agreement to specify how the obligations relating to public access required by a section 106 agreement will be met.

What are the areas of dispute in the case of 20 Fenchurch street?

When the building opened, it was noted that some aspects of the Skygarden varied from the agreed planning permission. These were:

  • The servery at Level 35 is larger than was shown on the plan
  • The terraces on Level 36 do not provide the equivalent views promised for non-diners and diners.
  • No servery on Level 36
  • A missing staircase between levels 36 and 37 which means the circular route promised is not possible
  • Level 37 terrace larger than shown

What is the owner’s view?

Land Securities believe that since the requirement is to provide access to the Sky Garden “as illustrated” on the drawing, the changes were permissible because the drawing is “illustrative” as long as the minimum areas of Publicly Accessible Space are retained (which they are).

What is the City’s view?

The City is of the view that these changes are not consistent with the requirement to “provide and retain the Sky Garden as illustrated on the Sky Garden Drawings” as they were to illustrate the areas which non-diners could access.

What happens now?

The owners have advised that they could not change the Sky Garden to fall in line with the Sky Garden Drawings without closing it for some time. They have come up with some measures to improve the amenity and experience of visitors to the Sky Garden, to help address the impacts of the changes. It is for the City to decide whether to agree those measures and accept the changes to the Sky Garden layout, and to approve the Visitor Management Plan. These were brought to Committee on July 31st. In order to better understand the issues, the proposed changes, and the best solution in the public interest, the Committee has decided to adjourn making a decision on the report until after a site visit has been undertaken. This site visit will happen in September, to ensure a quorate number of members can attend.

Why was a site visit not scheduled before the report came to committee?

It was only when the report was finalised that members were able to see its complexity and determined that a site visit was necessary.

What could happen next?

The Planning Committee has the option whether to agree the changes to the layout and new measures, or whether to reject them. If they were rejected, the committee would have the option to look into the possibility of legal action to ensure the Sky Garden was changed back to the exact planning specifications. However, this is something that is too far away to speculate on. Whether or not this would be in the public interest (as changes could require closure to the public for months) would also need to be considered.

Why have there been so many problems with the Skygarden?

Free public access to high spaces in private buildings in the City is still a new idea. Ensuring that we get it right for the public and the building owner has taken time and detailed consideration. 20 Fenchurch Street has been in the forefront of this evolving process, and we have built on the experience gained in specifying requirements for future viewing galleries such as the one proposed at 6-8 Bishopsgate, and potentially, 22 Bishopsgate.