UNESCO said Friday it was likely to remove Cologne Cathedral from its list of World Heritage in Danger because a construction project that would have obscured views of the building looks set to be scaled down or shelved.
Cologne's most famous landmark could soon be out of trouble
"The biggest obstacle to returning the cathedral to the (normal) World Heritage List has been removed," said Dieter Offenhäusser, spokesman for the German commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Property developers had submitted plans for three office blocks that would have radically altered the skyline of the western city, which is currently dominated by the twin spires of the Gothic cathedral. The city's planning authorities look set to scrap plans for two of the towers but say one could still be built, but only if a tenant can be found.
Lufthansa pulls out
German airline Lufthansa had expressed an interest in renting the first tower, but has now pulled out.
"It was planned that Lufthansa would move into the building but this has not been followed through," a spokesman for the Cologne city authorities told AFP.
Cologne Cathedral was built over six centuries from 1248 to 1880 and survived bombing of the city during World War II.
UNESCO describes the World Heritage sites as "places on earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity."