The Deputy Prime Minister's decision to grant planning consent for Renzo Piano's London Bridge Tower has been warmly welcomed by Southwark Council and Ken Livingstone.
Deputy PM John Prescott has acted on the Planning Inspectorate's recommendation to grant permission for the 1000ft tower, dubbed the "Shard of Glass".
Southwark Council has long supported the tower on the grounds that it is a building of outstanding architectural merit and will give the borough a much-needed economic boost. The council's planning department resolved to grant permission for the development in March 2002, prior to it being called in by the Deputy Prime Minister.
Cllr Catherine Bowman, Executive Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: "This is great news for Southwark and for London. The London Bridge Tower is outstandingly beautiful and will be a modern yet sympathetic addition to the Capital's skyline. From the outset, the building has been a hit with the public, 92% of whom gave it outright or qualified support during the consultation. This decision means we can move on with turning this architectural vision into a reality."
Southwark's Director of Regeneration Paul Evans said: "The height, form and excellent design quality of the London Bridge Tower make it a world-class building that will attract visitors from around the world and bring investment and jobs to Southwark. Southwark Council will continue to play a role in ensuring that the Tower acts a catalyst to improve the quality of the urban environment across the whole of the London Bridge area."
Irvine Sellar, Chief Executive of Sellar Property Group, which is leading the development said: "We are delighted by the decision as it provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to create what will become one of the world's most beautiful buildings. This positive decision is wonderful news, not only for our partners and our team but also for the residents of Southwark, London and the U.K. as a whole. We aim to commence construction in 2005 with completion in 2009."
Renzo Piano said: "I am grateful for having being challenged for 3 years to do better and I am even more pleased today that we have been rewarded with the approval to go ahead. Now our real work will begin!"
"This is a total vindication of the need for a few high-quality tall buildings where they are appropriate and well designed" said Mayor of London Ken Livingstone. "I am delighted that the right decision has been made. I supported this development at the recent public inquiry because of the fantastic contribution it will make to London's economic development.
The Mayor added: "The development will also provide for greatly enhanced transport facilities in the London Bridge area through a £5m transport package that I was able to negotiate, in partnership with Southwark Council, as part of the approval of the scheme. I am delighted that improvements I and the council have negotiated for better pedestrian access to the building have also been also incorporated into the final plans."