On Thursday evening, June 4, at 7pm the Tower Hamlets strategic development committee is making decisions on two major developments in the area – Galliards’ 1,500 apartment, six-tower development on Millharbour and FEC’s Alpha Square 63-storey residential tower with a hotel off Marsh Wall.
It will be an interesting meeting because of the mayoral elections on June 11. Will that affect how councillors vote or not?
Unusually, council officers are recommending that the Alpha Square development be rejected. It is apparently too tall and dense for the area, which is odd as the planning department has approved buildings close by which are taller and denser.
Is it a sign that the planning department is starting to listen to residents’ concerns?
The Galliard development with its new school and pocket parks would be welcome but the density of the building is still well above London Plan recommended limits.
The three new Galliard developments on Millharbour alone would have 915 children up to the age of 15 and would fill the proposed new school. Which school the children from the other new developments would go to is unclear.
The planning application implies that the Lanterns Dance Studio on Millharbour will simply move across the road to new facilities in the new building. But the director has been told that can only happen if they pay Galliard £6million.
Lanterns cannot afford to do that so the area will lose a much-loved community facility that has been in the area for 25 years and has received £300k in public funding over the years.
Just as the population is massively increasing, community facilities are being removed.
At the last meeting in April the committee approved the 2 Millharbour development and Galliard is actively selling it even though they have not yet broken ground or got planning permission from the GLA.
In addition Ballymore has submitted a scoping opinion for a twin tower building next to the Landmark (at the same height) on the empty ground between Manilla and Cuba Streets and Berkeley Homes are proposing a third tower at South Quay Plaza up to 210m making it the sixth tallest residential tower in the UK to add to the two towers already approved.
One Housing Group is consulting on what to do with the Samuda, St Johns, Barkentine and Kingsbridge estates on the island.
It appears that its intention is to knock it all down and replace 2,027 units with 8,906 new units even though communication with residents has been less clear. If this goes ahead it would be the largest development in the history of Tower Hamlets.
In total I expect the population of the area (Canary Wharf, Blackwall & Cubitt Town, Island Gardens wards) to go from 40,251 people in 2011 to 106,981 over the next 15 years.
This is one reason why the GLA will launch an Opportunity Area Planning Framework this summer for the area. These are designed to enable & encourage development in an area although in this case it is arriving after most of the development has already been approved.
Next Tuesday night, June 9, at 7.30pm the Isle of Dogs Neighbourhood Planning Forum has invited all of the mayoral candidates to a hustings event at St John’s Community Centre, Glengall Grove, E14 3NE.
Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats, Greens, Ukip and Red Flag candidates have confirmed attendance.
Cllr Andrew Wood is a Tower Hamlets borough councillor for the Canary Wharf ward