Lambeth puts block on Berkeley's 49-storey tower

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The Independent Online

Berkeley Group, the housebuilder, has had its plans to construct the UK's tallest residential tower rejected by a local council.

The £100m proposal would have seen a 49-storey building looming over the River Thames at Vauxhall, south London.

But Lambeth Council's planning committee voted by four votes to three to turn down Berkeley's plan for the slender 591ft block. The rejection follows approval earlier this month for the construction of Europe's tallest building, at a site along the river at London Bridge. Those plans were given the go-ahead following a public inquiry.

Berkeley's St George urban development arm already has a huge mixed-use scheme on the 7.5-acre site at Vauxhall. The company is currently in talks with the Marriott hotel chain over a 400-room hotel that has received permission to be added to the development.

Tony Carey, managing director of St George, hit out at Lambeth Council and its Liberal-led administration. He pointed out that Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, was in favour of the project. "Mr Livingstone supports this very strongly," he said. "Lambeth, which is Liberal, doesn't. Funny that. We're in among politics here."

Berkeley originally put in its planning application in December 2001. Mr Carey said the company would appeal Lambeth's decision, which means a public inquiry, with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister having the final say. John Prescott's department approved the London Bridge development.

Mr Carey said he hoped for a final verdict by the end of 2004. "We strongly believe we have answered most of the queries. It should now be approved. It's going to be a beautiful, iconic building," he said.

The tower would have 167 flats, many selling for £1m or more. The building's architects, Broadway Malyan, have said it is a world-class design that should be compared with the likes of Trump Towers in New York.

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