Page last updated at 15:00 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 16:00 UK

Mayor backs giant Docklands tower

Artist impression of Columbus Tower
Columbus Tower will hold 192 hotel rooms and over 74 apartments

London mayor Boris Johnson has intervened to approve a 63-storey tower in east London that will provide office space, apartments and a hotel.

Plans for Columbus Tower were initially rejected by Tower Hamlets councillors.

But under new powers, Mr Johnson can take over planning applications which impact on the entire city.

Columbus Tower developers will contribute £4m towards the Crossrail project and more than £1m towards affordable housing in the area.

The tower will cost £450m to build and reaching 237 metres in height, it will be the tallest building in London's docklands, 2 metres taller than One Canada Square.

Crossrail contribution

Mr Johnson said: "The application will not only strengthen the success story of the Isle of Dogs, but will be hugely beneficial to the whole of London.

"As well as being suited to the Canary Wharf district with its distinctive tall buildings, the overall size of the development means that it will deliver a huge contribution to the cost of Crossrail."

In August, the mayor exercised his new planning powers for the first time by "taking over" the planning application from Tower Hamlets.

Will he be approving enormous tower blocks in Kensington & Chelsea or his other favourite boroughs?

Labour Assembly Member, John Biggs

Until April last year, London's mayor only had the power to direct a borough to refuse planning permission if a scheme did not comply with the development policies of the London Plan.

Tower Hamlets council originally resisted the planning application "based on historical and conservation grounds".

A spokesman said the council thought it had been "right to resist this proposal".

However he said they understood that the mayor believed "the application is of strategic importance to the whole of London".

But Local Labour Assembly Member, John Biggs, said: "This is another policy u-turn from the Mayor.

"Will he be approving enormous tower blocks in Kensington & Chelsea or his other favourite boroughs?

"I doubt it. More and more we are seeing how little he cares for East London."

Nick Lee, of developer Commercial Estates Group, said: "We look forward to working closely with the GLA and London Borough of Tower Hamlets as the scheme progresses."

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