A £60 million 26-storey office block will be built in Birmingham city centre by summer 2018 after getting the green light from council planners.
The planning committee was today almost unanimous in its support for the demolition of the NatWest Tower at 103 Colmore Row and its replacement with a grade A office building.
The new tower will have 200,000 sq ft of office space, a retail unit fronting onto Newhall Street, be topped by a 'lantern' feature to light up the city skyline, a rooftop restaurant and street level winter garden.
The 22-storey, 103 Colmore Row was designed by John Madin and completed in 1974 but has been empty since 2003. Its demolition was initially rejected back in March as councillors wanted to see what would replace it before approving the application to knock it down.
Coun Fiona Williams (Lab Hodge Hill) said today: "This city will be considerably enhanced by this. It is not as tall at the BT Tower and some other buildings are nearly as tall so it will not be out of keeping. Every generation has a right to make its mark on the city."
Coun Peter Douglas Osborn (Con Weoley) said it replaced "a monstrosity" in the NatWest Tower.
He added: "The new tower is very imaginative and very welcome."
The only dissent came from Coun Gareth Moore (Con Erdington) who believed the design was out of place in historic Colmore Row.
The council's director of planning Waheed Nazir outlined the importance of the development to the city centre.
"This is one of the most iconic sites to be built on and will give confidence back, a sign that this city means business," he told the committee meeting.
He explained that demolition of the NatWest Tower would take about a year and developers Rockspring and Sterling Property Ventures were ready to build.
"This plan will not sit on a shelf waiting for a tenant, we have a commitment from Rockspring that this will be built 100 per cent speculatively," Mr Nazir added.
"Rockspring is a major global investment fund and this is their single biggest development in the whole of the UK. They have already committed £55 million to this project."
He added that this showed Birmingham would be competing globally in the office market.
At 346 feet high and with the apex to stand more than 800 feet above sea level, the new tower will be the tallest office building under construction in the UK outside of the capital.
Rockspring director Eric Linden said: "We have been encouraged by the support for our plans for this landmark development, from the people of Birmingham and potential occupiers, as well as from the city council and other stakeholders.
"Rockspring is pleased to be playing such a significant role in the improvement of this prime area of Birmingham, a city we view as a strengthening target for regional investment in the UK and where there is significant demand for quality, modern office space."
Peter Graham, construction director at Sterling, added: "We're very pleased that Birmingham City Council has acknowledged our unwavering commitment to this project and this great city.
"It means we can now move this project off the drawing board and onto site, replacing an outdated, inefficient building with a modern, landmark office development that Birmingham can be proud of."