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City of London's 'Scalpel' office given go-ahead

The City of London has approved plans for the £500 million 35-storey ‘Scalpel’ skyscraper at 52-54 Lime Street.

The mayor of London’s office now has two weeks to approve the proposal and suggest changes to the plans, and is likely to focus on environmental enhancements and the building’s BREEAM rating, the City of London planning office said.

Insurance firm W R Berkley Corporation submitted its planning application for the building in September. The tower is set to become the company’s new European headquarters.

W R Berkley is funding the construction directly and will occupy a quarter of the building, bringing together all its London staff. It said that other companies have already expressed interest in taking room in the building.

Work is due to start this year and complete by 2017.

The 190 m-tall tower was designed by Bill Pedersen at Kohn Pedersen Fox – the firm that also designed the Heron tower.

The 35 floors of offices will sit above ground and mezzanine levels and two basement levels. Entrances via a new public square will be on Leadenhall Street.

The scheme will feature a new public square of about 11,000 sq ft next to the existing precinct around the Willis Building, comprising public seating, planting and space for public art and tables linked to a coffee shop on the ground floor.

The project is intended to echo “the 17th century origins of the specialist insurance markets at Lloyds Coffee House”, the firm said.

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