An East London building heralded as one of the tallest in Europe may finally be built, but only if affordable flats in the block are scrapped.
The massive 67-storey tower, planned for a docks site in Canary Wharf, would be the biggest apartment building in Western Europe.
At 240m tall, the London Spire would be one of the biggest buildings in the UK – the same size as neighbouring One Canada Square and just 70 metres shorter than the Shard.
Controversially, the plans reveal it to have just one staircase to escape fires from its upper floors.
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Despite planning permission being approved in 2016, no work has begun on the building and the site remains a hole in the ground.
The building’s Chinese developer Greenland said the Spire would be far less profitable than they had hoped.
It has said it is looking to scrap the 96 affordable homes promised when planning permission was given.
In a letter sent to Tower Hamlets Council, Greenland asked to throw out the plans for cheaper flats to “unlock the viability” of the Spire.
The developers estimated that building the Spire now would only create a return of £8.8 million.
Scrapping the 96 affordable homes it had planned for the 869-flat tower could make Greenland £50 million.
According to the Financial Times, the site was bought by the Chinese developers for £84 million in 2013.
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Greenland said it still planned to build 60 other affordable homes it had pledged for Limehouse.
Although some work began on the site, the developers paused it in 2018 after running into a number of issues, including the financial impact of Brexit.
One of the biggest issues faced by the Spire was that it planned to have just one fire escape to its upper floors.
Similar proposals in Canary Wharf for huge flat blocks with just one fire escape have sparked a furious backlash among residents, who argue that developers have not learned the lessons of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Tower Hamlets Council has set a target of building 2,000 affordable homes, and usually requires any new development to have a number of affordable homes before planning permission is given.
A decision on the developer’s request is still being considered by Tower Hamlets Council, and it is unclear when construction might restart.
Greenland was contacted for comment.