Plans for a luxury hotel in a 170-metre tower next to Blackfriars Bridge moved a step closer this week when Southwark's planning committee resolved to grant planning permission.
In July councillors resolved to grant planning permission to a 180-metre version of the tower, but following an intervention by English Heritage – which had concerns about the impact of the tower on views from St James's Park – the developer produced a revised scheme reducing the height by ten metres.
The main changes to the Ian Simpson design are the loss of one floor of the 261-room Jumeirah hotel and alterations to the publicly accessible Skydeck at the top of the tower.
Councillors voted two to one in favour of the revised application with one abstention.
"One Blackfriars Road is destined to become a major iconic landmark and will bring a major boost for the South Bank as one of the capital's leading tourist destinations," says Beetham chairman Hugh Frost.
The scheme includes 32 'affordable' shared-owners homes in a low-rise block facing Rennie Street, with the scheme's quota of social rented housing being located off-site.
The Skydeck at the top of the tower – 35 metres higher than the London Eye – is expected to be a major paid-for attraction, drawing 800,000 visitors a year. Situated equidistant from Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, the tower will offer panoramic views of central London.
Conservative Cllr Robin Crookshank Hilton said that the difference between the 2006 and 2007 proposals was "quite shocking" and she was "heartbroken" that the scheme the committee endorsed in July had been "thwarted" by English Heritage's intervention.
"Frankly it does look squat and it doesn't look slender any more," said committee chair Cllr James Gurling.
He added: "This looks like it's suffered from the compromise you've had to do."
The scheme approved this week is the third version of the tower to be made public. When the tower was first announced in 2005 it was to be 225 metres high. In September 2006 a revised 180-metre design was revealed – and the further cut to 170 metres was announced this autumn.
Comments from planning committee members at the July meeting have also been taken on board by a reduction in the number of parking spaces available to hotel guests and the provision of publicly accessible toilets on the podium level at the base of the tower.
The committee heard from residents of River Court, a residential block north of Upper Ground, who are concerned about the impact of the tower on their television reception.
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