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Construction has finally begun on what will be Islington’s tallest skyscraper – in a blow to campaigners who had high hopes it would never get off the ground.

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Foundations are now being dug for a mammoth 36-storey tower that will stand 120 metres tall – higher than Centrepoint – on City Road Basin in City Road, Islington.

The £65million building will transform the borough’s skyline as one of a pair of huge towers rising up from the basin, alongside a 31-storey structure that is already underway.

Developer Mount Anvil officially announced the start of construction yesterday (Wednesday), six years after planning permission was granted. The news was greeted with disappointment by campaigners who fought the original plans.

Del Brenner, of the Regents Network, which campaigns for London’s waterways, said: “It’s very sad – it had taken so long we had our fingers crossed it would never happen.

“It’s far too big for that part of Islington and it will impose terribly on the basin. We have a wonderful feature there and they’re going to ruin it.

“They say it’s a ‘landmark’, but we already have an important landmark there in the basin and we don’t need another.”

The tower, which will host 144 flats and take three years to construct, has been designed by the architects behind the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

It is part of a complex dubbed Lexicon, which will also include two eight-storey buildings. There will be 307 units in all, with around a third classed as affordable housing and up to three multi-million pound penthouses.

Cllr Alice Perry, Labour member for St Peter’s ward, said: “Lots of people have concerns, but because it has taken so long, many were in denial about it being built.

“It’s not really in keeping with the area, but it’s happening now and there’s nothing we can do.

“The main thing is that the people who live there are able to integrate into the community.”

Mount Anvil’s project director Kevin Payne said the tower will “have a positive impact on the area”.

He added: “It’s going to be a fantastic building. We’re here to add to the community and to enhance the basin, which could be better used.

“We want to support local people and help make it a lively and interesting place for the community.”

The firm sponsored the recent Angel Canal Festival and is due to meet the Friends of Regent’s Canal about concerns over the placement of hoardings.

Her ward colleague Cllr Martin Klute said: “I think it’s completely inappropriate and should be in the City, not the low scale urban environment immediately opposite.”

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