A Canary Wharf councillor has called out Tower Hamlets Council for spending money on what he thinks is a powerless planning document.
The South Quay Masterplan, a supplementary planning document, had been put on hold following the election of Mayor John Biggs in June. It outlined the desirable scale of development along the south quay in the Isle of Dogs, and was passed in a Tower Hamlets cabinet meeting on October 6.
But Cllr Andrew Wood (Con, Canary Wharf) believes the document, which has cost the council £150,000 to produce, has such little power there is not much point in it existing.
“There is very little change in the document since it was put on hold,” he said. “A few of the developers wanted the wordings of certain things changed but it’s effectively the same as it was.
“This was a wasted opportunity. It is clear that, as a supplementary planning document, this will not have the legal strength to help us do anything.
“If I was John Biggs, I would have cancelled it.”
It is believed developments in the Isle of Dogs and Blackwall could raise the population from 40,000 to 115,000 over the next decade or so, and the council has been keen to try and rein in the hyperactive pace of development.
After passing the document at the meeting, Mayor John Biggs said: “We quite rightly put a hold on the Masterplan to see if it needed further consideration. There are strong concerns in the borough over the impact of hyper density schemes on communities and infrastructure.
“The Masterplan will not address the range of concerns about development in the area, nor will it change the main planning policies of the council and at City Hall – it will however help to set the tone on the detail and that’s why the Masterplan is important.”
So what’s in the South Quay Masterplan? Here’s our handy cut-out-and-keep guide on everything you need to know about the document.
1. “Substantial population”
Under the heading: “The Vision” it states: “By 2030, South Quay will have been shaped to be a lively, sustainable neighbourhood with a reinvigorated Marsh Wall and docksides sitting among the places of Canary Wharf, Millwall and Cubitt Town. Home to a substantial residential and working population that is integrated with the surrounding areas, the area will be designed to an exceptional standard. The benefits generated by the new development will be available to people from across the Isle of Dogs and beyond.”
2. Open spaces
While worded somewhat ambiguously, the masterplan contains provisions for public spaces, stating: “Development should contribute to the delivery of usable high quality public green open spaces with biodiversity value in coordination with neighbouring sites.”
It looks like it’ll be a tight squeeze. The document suggests ideal population densities between 1,100 and 3,000 habitable rooms per hectare as “reasonable options”. The Tower Hamlets LDF document from 2009 recommends a maximum of 1,100 habitable rooms per hectare.
The appendix of the masterplan lists a vast array of improvements the council expects developers to make to public ammenities, such will be the impact of the increasing population on services such as schools and roads. The list includes:
• Community centres and facilities for young people
• Health facilities
• Idea Stores and libraries
• Leisure centres
• Primary schools
• Improved walking and cycling routes
• Public transport - including new and improved bus services into Canary Wharf
• Waste - suggesting “innovative solutions” to manage waste
The full document can be viewed here.