Residents and local politicians in Greenwich and Tower Hamlets have reacted with horror to the approval of a cruise terminal that will see huge ships moored on the River Thames.

Greenwich Council’s Planning Board granted permission for the Enderby Wharf facility on Tuesday, July 21, which will also include 477 homes, a skills academy, crèche and alterations and extensions to Grade II listed Enderby House.

The terminal will be situated in the river between Tower Hamlets and the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

At the meeting residents groups and local politicians spoke against the plans, claiming lives could be lost and, if approved, “will bring misery to thousands” as a result to the worsening of air quality from cruise ships and that onshore power should be considered instead.

Former marine insurance broker and Greenwich resident John Miles warned councillors the large ships docking at the terminal could burn up to 1,500 litres of diesel an hour.

An artist's impression of how the Enderby Wharf cruise terminal at Greenwich will look when completed

The typical ships expected to dock there however are medium sized ships, which will still burn up to 700 litres of diesel per hour.

However, Nick Marks from the council’s environmental health department says borough pollution is from main roads and that using onshore power was “not feasible on this situation” as very few cruise ships have the ability to link into it.

Issues had already been raised over affordable housing for the scheme, but an addendum was presented at the beginning of the meeting stating the provision is expected to now be 15.7%, despite previous predictions being closer to 35%.

It stated: “The enlarged cruise liner terminal is the main reason for the scheme’s reduced viability; indeed it is estimated by Savills, and we concur, that the inclusion of the terminal equates to about 9% loss in affordable housing.”

Greenwich’s cabinet member for culture and creative industries Miranda Williams told the meeting she believed the cruise terminal would bring a huge economic boost via tourism, with the council predicting it will bring a £13million spend increase through “passenger related expenditure”.

Greenwich Peninsula

Also the developer Westcourt Real Estate predicts 88 permanent jobs will be created from the cruise terminal, with 364 jobs created during construction – despite previous figures put forward stating the total to be 507.

Describing the decision as a “kick in the teeth” for residents, the Tower Hamlets Green Party chair Dan Lee said: “Air pollution is being rightly acknowledged as a silent killer in London, yet here serious concerns about air quality from this development were glossed over, as well as other concerns from infrastructure to housing to jobs.

“That 98% of responses to their consultation were against, as well as many membership organisations, appears to have mattered little compared to the glint of pound signs in many of the councillors’ eyes. Planning permission may have been granted, but we will continue to campaign with other locals on both sides of the river.”

Following the meeting, Tower Hamlets resident Ralph Hardwick said: “Perhaps there should now be an appeal or an injunction because there was an inadequate environmental statement on Air Quality. Similarly Tower Hamlets Council did not object on the air quality grounds.”