The Secretary of State Hazel Blears yesterday approved Coin Street Community Builders’ plans for a residential and leisure scheme including a 144-metre tower on London’s South Bank.

Coin Street is hoping to develop private apartments in the 43-storey tower – and would use income from the flats to subsidise public facilities including a new swimming pool.

‘The scheme is not just about radically improving the environment of the South Bank but also delivering vital facilities which offer alternatives to those at risk of obesity, gang culture and unemployment,’ said Iain Tuckett, group director at Coin Street Community Builders.

‘In place of a car park we will have London’s best public swimming and indoor leisure centre, the headquarters of Rambert Dance Company with its three dance studios, 329 new homes, a town square linked to Waterloo Bridge, possibly a new university faculty building and, across one road the National Theatre, and across the other award winning housing co-operatives.’

The plans were approved by Lambeth Council and the Mayor in August but it was called in last September following a public inquiry.

Lambeth Council, local MP Kate Hoey, the Mayor of London, the Southbank Centre, National Theatre, and architects including Lord Rogers and Sir Terry Farrell all backed the scheme during the inquiry.

However, English Heritage and Westminster Council both opposed the scheme saying it would damage some of the capital’s most treasured views.