aa-nov25-Golds142WEBBY.jpgResidents in Virginia Quay are being urged to voice their protest at plans to build a cement works proposed for the neighbouring Orchard Wharf site.

Blackwall and Cubitt Town councillor Peter Golds is urging residents and businesses in the area to oppose the application, which could see over 600,000 tonnes of aggregate pass through every year.

A planning application has been submitted by Aggregate Industries UK Ltd and London Concrete Ltd to build the plant close to the mouth of the River Lea, on a site bounded by East India Dock Basin nature reserve to the west, and close to both Trinity Buoy Wharf.

If consent is granted, over 600,000 tonnes of aggregate and cementitious powder will be unloaded at the wharf from barges every year. It will also generate around 200 lorry journeys into and out of the site every day. It's a proposal that has left Blackwall and Cubitt Town councillor Peter Golds aghast.

Map220WEB.jpgHe said: "This is just not an appropriate place to build something like this. We've been trying to make this a better place to live, but they want to add 200 lorry journeys to what are already bad traffic problems in the area.

"Most residents in Virginia Quay are very concerned about this proposal. The Pura Foods site is close by, and what will happen to traffic in the area when that gets developed? It's simply not appropriate to build something like this plant here."

Residents of Virginia Quay were aware that the site had been earmarked for development, but the scale of the proposal worries them. Apart from around 12,500 tonnes of material being unloaded at the wharf each week, the plant will operate between 6am-7pm during the week, and from 6am-1pm on Saturdays.

Material will be unloaded by converyor-belts from barges into specially constructed silos housed in a 19m tall building.

In their application LCAI argue Orchard Wharf is the best site they have found after exhaustive searches along the Thames.

It said: "There are currently few long-term aggregates and concrete suppliers able to adequately meet the demands of developments in east London. The proposed development is a river-served site, reducing the number of heavy goods vehicles on London's congested road network."

The application will be decided by London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, and falls under the wharf reactivation project implemented by former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone in 2005. But, Cllr Golds is determined to campaign to stop it.

He said: "I'll be sending a letter to residents first, and then I'll be contacting the businesses in Trinity Buoy Wharf. We should all be concerned about what is a highly inappropriate proposal for the area.

"It's so annoying that it will be decided by the Thames Gateway Development Corporation, a wretched quango, as all Tower Hamlets Council can do is comment on it.

"But I have been told that if the scale of objections are such then it will have an effect, so we need to put together a constructive argument against it."

Contact Cllr Golds at cllrpetergolds@aol.com.


Bill Ellson said:

It is irrelevant that the application is to be decided by the Development Corporation rather than the council. LB Tower Hamlets' published planning policies specifically mention that Orchard Wharf is to be protected for cargo handling, and planning committees are required to take their decisions in accordance with such policies.

In 1997 Secretary of State John Gummer safeguarded a number of riverside sites, upstream of the Thames Barrier, (including Orchard Wharf) for freight use.

In April 2003 the Greater London Authority published a draft review of Safeguarded Wharves for public consultation. This identified Orchard Wharf as a site to be brought back into freight use. The subsequent final report recommended that "Orchard Wharf has been identified, by virtue of the site characteristics... ...as capable of being made viable for cargo-handling, particularly for transhipped aggregates..." It also noted a "recent marketing exercise has revealed considerable interest from the cargo-handling industry in using Orchard Wharf." Not surprisingly the Mayor of London confirmed the safeguarded status of the wharf.

Any Virginia Quay resident should have found all this out from a property search before they purchased.