Developer Ballymore has decided to delay plans for a 51-storey skyscraper with just one fire escape, after concerns from the London Fire Brigade.
Campaigners had expressed outrage at the plans, which were due to go before the Tower Hamlets’ planning committee on Thursday.
The Cuba Street tower was set to have 655 rooms and tower above Canary Wharf, more than double the height of Grenfell Tower.
A single staircase is permitted under building regulations if the approach to a fire is to tell residents to stay where they are. However, campaigners said councillors had a moral duty to block the development in the wake of the 2017 Grenfell Tower disaster.
Ballymore was asked to clarify aspects of its application relating to the building’s fire evacuation provisions and said it was “more than happy” to work on updating plans.
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) said it expressed concerns to the planning committee that the submitted design does not “provide suitable and convenient means of escape and associated evacuation strategy for all building users.”
A spokesperson for the LFB added: “In buildings with a single escape route, we would expect the developer to have their own fire engineers provide a full review to show the resilience in the event of a fire and this does not appear to have been carried out.
“While we are not a statutory consultee on such planning applications, we would always look to provide a response around the fire strategy in high-rise buildings, as we have in this case.”
A spokesperson for Ballymore confirmed it had received comments from the LFB on Thursday, with the brigade “requesting clarification around aspects of the application.”
They added: “We are more than happy to provide that clarification and will continue to work closely with the LFB and local authority towards presenting the scheme for planning approval in due course. Like all Ballymore developments, the Cuba Street scheme will be built in full accordance with approved and emerging guidance and British Standards.”
In a statement, the Tower Hamlets Justice for Leaseholders (THJL) campaign group welcomed the withdrawal of the planning application at this stage.
The u-turn marked “the start of a new era in fire safety and leaseholder rights in the UK,” THJL said.
The group said: “The time has come for the UK, and most certainly Tower Hamlets, the borough with the most high-rise buildings in the country and some of the tallest in western Europe, to learn from its mistakes and become a world leader in regulating the construction of safe buildings and securing the safety of those who live in them.
“The public outcry over the construction of a new building with weak fire safety measures should serve as a warning to both developers seeking to maximise profits at the expense of safety and to Councils who greenlight such plans.”
It comes as fresh government measures will ask property developers to pay for cladding remediations across the country
Housing minister told MPs this week that the burden of replacing dangerous cladding from millions of homes will be squarely placed on the dodgy developers and not leaseholders.