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Stockholm council squashes Apple store plans

CNN logo CNN 11/1/2018 By Jack Guy, CNN
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple unveils a new MacBook Air during a launch event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on October 30, 2018 in New York City. This is Apple's first full upgrade of the laptop in three years. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)© Stephanie Keith/Getty Images North America/Getty Images NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple unveils a new MacBook Air during a launch event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on October 30, 2018 in New York City. This is Apple's first full upgrade of the laptop in three years. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Councilors in Stockholm say they intend to reject Apple's plans to build a store in a popular park in the Swedish capital.

The store, designed by British architecture firm Foster + Partners, had been planned for the Kungsträdgården, or King's Garden. One of the oldest parks in Stockholm, the Kungsträdgården sits in front of the Royal Palace and regularly hosts public events such as ice skating and Pride parades, as well as protest marches and political debates.

Apple received the green light on the project from the previous city government, but the proposal sparked opposition among residents.

Protesters, conservationists and the Stockholm city Beauty Council spoke out against the plans, and a city consultation received around 1,800, overwhelmingly negative, responses.

Then elections in October returned a new administration, consisting of an alliance between the Green Party and a grouping of right-wing parties, which saw the political tide turn against Apple.

"It is welcome that Apple wants to establish itself in the city," said Erik Slottner, Christian Democrat group leader in city hall, at a press conference after the election. "But Kungsträdgården is the wrong place."

The apparent rejection of the Stockholm store is the latest setback for Apple's retail operations after the company was also forced to scale back an ambitious project in Melbourne, Australia following objections from residents.

Kungstradgarden looks over the water to the Royal Palace.© Novarc Images/Alamy Stock Photo Kungstradgarden looks over the water to the Royal Palace.

In previous years the US tech giant was welcomed by cities eager to attract affluent Apple customers. However a recent change in strategy appears to have rubbed some people up the wrong way.

"It's funny, we actually don't call them stores anymore," Angela Ahrendts, Apple's senior vice-president of retail, said at the iPhone X unveiling event in November last year. "We call them town squares, because they're gathering places where everyone is welcome."

However the use of public space by a private company was one reason for opposition to the Stockholm plan.

The King's Garden is a popular public space in the Swedish capital.© JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images The King's Garden is a popular public space in the Swedish capital.

"The proposed building has a scale, color scheme, design and location that reduces the experience of the park as a whole," wrote the County Administrative Board in Stockholm during the consultation process. "This, together with the function of the building and removal of trees, is likely to reinforce Hamngatan at the expense of the park's function in the public space."

Apple has not yet responded to CNN's request for comment. A spokesperson for Foster + Partners declined to comment on the matter.

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