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The Government's design watchdog has backed a controversial £500 million residential tower in central London.

The 68-storey tower is being developed by Merseyside firm Beetham, which is responsible for similar towers in Manchester and Liverpool.

A planning application for the work was submitted to local authority Southwark Borough Council in July but neighbouring Westminster City Council attacked the plan because of the impact on the skyline.

Last week the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment gave the development at Blackfriars Road on the south bank of the River Thames the thumbs-up.

But it also said: 'We have reservations about the configuration of the family housing and are concerned that there are weaknesses in the streets and spaces in and around the development.' Beetham, which has worked with Carillion and Laing O'Rourke in the past, has yet to appoint a contractor for the work. The architect is Ian Simpson.