Developers just won approval to turn this iconic London tower into luxury flats

Emma Haslett
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The new Millbank Tower will contain 207 homes (Source: Millbank Tower)

Just what London needed: more luxury apartments.

Yes: at a planning meeting last night, billionaire property developers David and Simon Reubens won planning permission from Westminster City Council to turn London's iconic Millbank Tower into hundreds of luxury homes.

The tower, which has previously housed the United Nations and the Office for National Statistics' predecessor, the Central Statistical Office, will be converted in 207 "high-end" residential units, a new hotel and a so-called Skybar at the top of the tower. The building will also include an "arts and cultural centre", as well as a spa, swimming pool and fitness centre.

The plans were originally submitted under measures introduced by the government to make it easier to convert offices into homes. But critics may take exception - particularly considering research has shown office vacancy rates in the capital are at a 15-year low - with at least 6m sq ft of office space being turned into homes.

But since Millbank's planning application was submitted, back in August 2015, Westminster has introduced new rules clamping down on developers who want to turn offices into homes.

"It is worth noting that this application was considered under our old policy on office-to-residential," said a spokesman for Westminster City Council.

"Since we made a change we have seen a drop-off in applications for office-to-residential conversions and a significant rise in interest for new offices."

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