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Simpson wins the go-ahead for Blackfriars skyscraper

Ian Simpson has finally won the green light for his contentious One Blackfriars tower, south of the River Thames - after the scheme spent years on the drawing board.

Southwark Council's approval for the 52-storey skyscraper ends a rocky and much-publicised journey which has seen the tower chopped down in height from 70 storeys following criticism from both CABE and English Heritage about its potential impact on historic views.

The decision will not only confound the rumourmongers who repeatedly claimed the project was about to be ditched (Beetham Tower is not dead, claims Southwark) but could also pave the way for a number of similar high-rise schemes in the area - including a development for CirclePlane by Wilkinson Eyre at 20 Blackfriars Road.

Backed by Simpson's long-term patron the Beetham Organisation, the new skyscraper overlooking the river will house 64 top-end apartments and a 261-room hotel for Dubai-based hospitality company the Jumeirah Group.

Once built, the glass boomerang-shaped tower is expected to be higher than the Gherkin Swiss Re and will feature a top-floor observation deck.

by Richard Waite

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