Westferry Printworks some thoughts & detail on what it means as regards the Manhattanisation of E14
The main consequences of the governments decision to refuse the Westferry Printworks 2018 planning application for 1,524 homes are:
1. The secondary school which was granted planning permission in 2016, which the Department of Education has said it will build for Canary Wharf College secondary school has been held up because Richard Desmond (the owner) won't sign the lease for the land as he was meant to do in 2016 - this decision means that Desmond is less likely to sign that lease - I will ask the Council/DoE to compulsory purchase the site to force a decision on Desmond - Cllr Peter Golds & I raised this issue with the government a few months ago
2. Richard Desmond can appeal the Ministers decision to the Courts but only on narrow legal grounds - that his decision was taken on incorrect information
3. We do not know what Desmond will do know with his smaller 2016 planning permission for 722 homes and a secondary school - he can build it now or he can sell the site or he can sit on it as work has started to see what happens in the market (see the JP Morgan site as an example) or maybe submit a different planning application (which is what I suggested)?
4. We lose the £43 million of CIL that was in the 2018 permission as the 2016 permission was zero CIL rated due to the costs of cleaning the ground - but as the Council were unlikely to spend the money to our benefit I am not sure we will miss it locally - this area has generated hundreds of millions in £ for the Council in the last 20 years - have you seen many benefits from this £?
5.. The impact on future similar tall planning applications as the government has clearly objected to developments that negatively impact sailing in the docks, and that affect the views from the Old Royal Naval College, Tower Bridge, and Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. This may help reduce the size of developments on the island especially to the south of Marsh Wall.
The fundamental problem remains
The Isle of Dogs / E14 area is heading towards a future that I call Manhattanisation - that it becomes the densest and tallest place in western Europe not just in London - we already have the 5 tallest residential buildings in the UK.
Development has slowed but is continuing, see picture I have zero confidence that the Council & the GLA will prepare properly for that future, at least Manhattan had more time to prepare, on Wednesday I asked the Cabinet member responsible, what happened to the Development Infrastructure Funding Study (DIFS) for the Isle of Dogs and South Poplar (she did not even know what I was talking about) https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/isle-of-dogs-and-south-poplar-opportunity-area-planning-framework
This is the document that says £503.7 million needs to be spent between April 2017 and March 2022 on new infrastructure & transport to support future development in the area. The document is 4 years old now. BUT very little of what was detailed in that and in the Mayor of London's 2019 Opportunity Area Planning Framework for the Isle of Dogs and South Poplar area has happened.
For example, we know that there are problems with electricity supply to Marsh Wall - something foreseen more then 4 years ago and nothing was done to fix the problem in advance. This is because Tower Hamlets Council is just very poor at delivery (& is mainly focussed on building itself a new Town Hall in Whitechapel for around £130 million)
I do regret the loss of additional housing on the site, we do need more homes in London but 722 homes versus 1,524 is more sustainable given the lack of infrastructure locally. I did suggest to the developer that a different scheme might have got support, I liked the 2016 application except for the wind flow issues that could have been partially designed out.
Other parts of Tower Hamlets with better transport connections than this site need to deliver more homes. something the Council is not keen to do
But the decision by the Inspector and Minister have some important positives as regards future developments
Especially because of the impact on the Old Royal Naval College, Tower Bridge and Maritime Greenwich WHS.
*31. The Secretary of State has given careful consideration to the Inspector’s analysis at IR.A.420-435 and IR.B.235-240 and IR.B.302 in relation to the effect of the scale, height and massing of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the surrounding area. For the reasons given at IR.B.235-236 and IR.B.302 the Secretary of State agrees that the appeal scheme would be harmful to the character and appearance of the area (IR.B.302).*
*44. The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector’s analysis of effects on sailing conditions in the Millwall Outer Dock at IR.B.246-253, 294 and 303, including that there would be a significant adverse effect on sailing conditions in the Millwall Outer Dock for novice and inexperienced sailors, which would represent a significant disadvantage of the proposals (IR.B.246).*
Who to thank for this decision
The newspapers - The Times and Daily Mail who did so much reporting on this case especially about the relationship between Desmond and Jenrick and the controversial Conservative Party dinner where Jenrick met Desmond A Council lawyer called Rachel McKoy who has sadly left TH Council who identified the key ground for the legal challenge that made Jenrick admit his decision was unlawful Council planning officers created this mess in the 1st place by not making a decision within the statutory time limit of 4 months. They delayed making any decision allowing / forcing Desmond to go to the government more than 8 months after he submitted his application but subsequently did a lot of work on the two appeals (the government will now pay their costs) Mariya Talib and the residents who supported her judicial review because it kept the pressure on the Council to respond John Biggs etc now claim credit but we have a lot of developments locally where no decision has been made long after the 4 months have elapsed and the person who set up the ASDA funfair involving one or members of the Strategic Development Committee is still very active as if nothing happened.
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