If you balked at the rumoured £20 entrance fee for the Shard’s observation deck and fancied a decent view from one of the capital’s other emerging skyscrapers, your options have just narrowed: the on-again, off-again and now on-again Boomerang tower on Blackfriars Road is to be built without a sky deck. Not that the tower’s website has caught up yet: it still boasts of a “viewing gallery giving stunning vistas of the River Thames”, the calling card of the proposal that was approved in 2009, much to Boris Johnson’s irritation.
The ‘scraper will now be a residential-only development; at 153m it’ll be loom over Strata, currently London’s tallest residential tower, but won’t be as tall as the 181m under-construction building at St George Wharf, Vauxhall. The Mayor’s London Plan calls for tall buildings to have publicly-accessible viewing decks, but residential buildings are exempt from this requirement, and those lucky enough to live at One Blackfriars will be spared those awkward lift encounters with the great unwashed going up to gawp at the cross-river views.
As the SE1 website notes, One Blackfriars was drawn up at a time when the Shard’s construction was in the balance, and it’s questionable whether two viewing decks within a mile of each other would be viable from a commercial point of view. Penny-pinching height junkies can still hope for a more affordable trip up to the Sky Garden, which will sit atop the emerging ‘Walkie-Talkie‘ tower, and in the meantime take a look at our guide to cheap(ish) views of London.