Campaigners face Orchard Wharf defeat

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The Port of London Authority has re-affirmed that it wants to see Orchard Wharf, neighbouring the East India Dock Basin, safeguarded for industrial use.

Campaigners living in Virginia Quay had sought a re-designation of the site to block plans for a concrete batching plant on the redundant area at the mouth of the Lea. Tonight (Thursday) councillors will re-visit the proposal.

Residents had struck a blow in June when they persuaded councillors that such heavy processing, and the 200 traffic movements a day that would result, was an anachronism in an area that was now heavily residential and, in Trinity Buoy Wharf, had developed into a creative subculture.

Cllr Tim Archer said: "This application is completely inappropriate. The site is just 100m from Virginia Quay, directly opposite Orchard Place and it also next door to the East India Dock Basin nature reserve something which we in this borough should be particularly proud of."

Tower Hamlets Borough Council officers had recommended approval for the site on the basis of the Safeguarding Wharves initiative which looked to keep a number of riverside cargo handling alive.

But resident John Gordon said: "Leamouth is a superb example of sustainable urban renewal. The Safeguarded Wharves review ignores the residential renaissance of the area."

Councillors agreed and kicked out the plan.

However, the PLA has responded to the rejection by re-affirming its wish to see industrial use on the site ahead of today's planning meeting when councillors will be advised again to agree the scheme.

Of re-designation, the PLA said: "There are a number of substantial issues that would have to be resolved before this could be considered as a serious proposition and continued designation is appropriate - particularly as there is operator interest in using the wharf."

The PLA also pointed out a factor that had raised eyebrows in the original planning meeting - that the borough council's own core strategy protected Orchard Wharf for cargo-handling.

Resident Julian Hilton said: "This proposal is offensive and feels like an attack - it attacks common sense, it attack community, it is unfair."

The plan also needs the back of the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation which meets, with a recommendation to approve, next Thursday.