St George's plans for 1,800 homes on News International site go to council

By Rob Virtue on January 6, 2014 5:00 PM |

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Proposals for 1,800 homes on the old News International site in Wapping will be heard by Tower Hamlets Council this week.

St George, the high quality regeneration arm of Berkeley Group, is behind the scheme which will see buildings of up to 25 storeys in place of the former printworks and newspaper offices.

Planning chiefs at the council have recommended the part-detailed proposal is approved by the committee when it sits on Thursday.

The scheme proposes 30 per cent of the properties will be affordable housing, which the report said was "strongly supported by officers as it would provide new homes at levels that are truly affordable to local residents".

Eight buildings of residential and commercial space are planned in total with the smallest being four floors high.

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The latest consultation produced 41 letters of objection, citing a vast range of issues.

One such issue was the height of the tallest tower.

The highest building was reduced from 33 to 25 storeys following strong opposition from English Heritage in the early part of the consultation.

The council report, despite its recommendation of approval to the St George scheme, added: "Members will need to be satisfied that the overall regenerative benefits of the scheme, including the delivery of a new secondary school, outweigh any harm in terms of the local townscape."

As part of the financial contributions to the community, up to £7.2million will be given towards development of the Crossrail scheme.

There will also be over £4m towards the building of a secondary school for 1,200 students.

A total of £500,000 will be given to improve bus services.

The initial phases detailed in the application cover 529 homes over three buildings, with information on the rest to come at a later date.

The site was labelled Fortress Wapping when Rupert Murdoch moved his News International company there in the '80s, with the aim of keeping out striking printers.

Parts of the building, including the cellars, date back to the beginning of the 19th century.

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Speaking during the consultation process last year, managing director of St George Central London, Nick Hutchings, said: "We believe the development will reintegrate this important site into the community of Wapping and help create an exceptional place for local people and new residents to live, work, relax and enjoy."

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