Residents First

Tower Hamlets People Network

Local residents, schools, community groups, amenity societies and businesses working with British Waterways, Tower Hamlets Council and others for the protection and beneficial use of the six mile waterway ‘ring’, its historic buildings, structures and habitats.

Following the public inquiry in February 2011 (EEWG newsflash 5 February 2011; Newsletter No.8) the Inspector has allowed the appeal made by Trillium (Prime) Property Group Ltd against the Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for the demolition and replacement of the former POPLAR EMPLOYMENT EXCHANGE at 307 Burdett Road; and granted planning permission for the erection of a part 6 and part 11 storey block of flats on the cleared site.

In Christine Thorby’s report of 17 May 2011 she acknowledges that the Limehouse Cut “is an important historic reminder of the former industrial nature of the area contributing significantly to local distinctiveness.” And that the demolished former employment exchange “formed a cohesive group with the adjacent historic warehouses which are of a similar scale.”

However, the new building would be “in keeping with much of the more recent large scale, canalside development…” And would support the Council’s Core Strategy objectives “for regeneration and this would be of significant public benefit”.

She goes on to make the astonishing claim that the “modern, large scale blocks…contribute to enhancing the significance of the Limehouse Cut, supporting its long term maintenance and contribution to the distinct character of the area”.

This statement will be used by developers to justify even more “large scale blocks” alongside or near the Limehouse Cut and complete the process of turning it into a concrete canyon.



The public consultation (Newsletter No.8) more or less ended with a reasonably well-attended public meeting on 25 May 2011. Whilst there seems to be widespread support for the improved and extended character appraisal and management guidelines document, it clearly needs to be strengthened to limit the gross overdevelopment being encouraged by the Council’s Core Strategy, London Plan policies and the Planning Inspector’s astonishing claim in support of “modern, large scale blocks” alongside or near the Limehouse Cut. In particular:-
The former Spratt’s Biscuit Works and Violet Road bridge must be transferred from the Langdon Park Conservation Area to the new Limehouse Cut Conservation Area.

The former Spratt’s Biscuit Works and six buildings in the proposed new Conservation Area must be added to the Council’s local list, and included as locally listed buildings in the final document to be approved by Cabinet (see Tom Ridge’s letter, Newsletter No.8 Supplement).

Other Conservation Areas in Tower Hamlets have locally listed buildings and as “designated heritage assets” there is a PPS 5 presumption in favour of their retention and refurbishment. This fact is alluded to in the Council’s draft Limehouse Cut document on page 21, where it states:

“Some buildings… are Locally Listed by the Borough to indicate… that the Borough wishes to protect them.”

The proposed new Limehouse Cut Conservation Area has only got two small locally listed buildings.

The final document must also include more precise guidance to ensure that:

i) the surviving historic waterside buildings are kept and adapted for reuse.

ii) new buildings in the Conservation Area preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the Conservation Area.

iii) new buildings outside the Conservation Area preserve the setting of the Conservation Area.

The Council’s proposed design code for “sites adjacent to the waterspace” also includes sites adjacent to the boundaries of the Conservation Area AND IS MADE THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY FOR ACTION (see page 31 of draft document)

Although the public consultation has just ended, it is vital that we all do our best to ensure that the new Limehouse Cut Conservation Area document is sufficiently robust to limit gross overdevelopment and require sympathetic high-quality development.

Please email your support for the above proposals to:
[email protected]

or write to: LBTH Development Design and Conservation
Mulberry Place (AH)
PO Box 55739
5 Clove Crescent
London E14 1BY

Also, please send a copy of your email to [email protected]
or send a copy of your letter to Tom Ridge, 7 Shepton Houses, Welwyn Street, E2 0JN.



British Waterways Marinas Ltd applied to the Council for a Certificate of Lawful Development with respect to its proposed water taxi moorings and additional leisure moorings in Limehouse Basin (Newsletter No.8).

The certificate was refused on 24 May 2011 (see here three-page document). The Council’s decision is partly based on its separate screening opinion that the proposed moorings constitute development requiring an ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT (see here two-page document).

The EEWG hopes that the refusal will encourage British Waterways and BWML to reconsider their proposals for using Limehouse Basin and the Borough’s unique six mile waterway ‘ring’. As stated in Newsletter No.8, we think the Olympic boats or water taxis should be fitted with hybrid engines to minimise noise and pollution. And that instead of trip boats or party boats disturbing residents and destroying the relative peace and quiet of the Borough’s waterways, and damaging their biodiversity, there should be an eco-friendly, two-way (daytime) passenger boat service for local residents and tourists around the six-mile waterway ‘ring’ in Tower Hamlets.

We also hope that the Mayor and Councillors of Tower Hamlets will clearly state that they do not want noise and pollution on the six- mile waterway ‘ring’. But do want a daytime public passenger boat service as part of the Olympic Legacy; and a peppercorn mooring for the J-go education/community boat.

June 16th, 2011

Posted In: East End Waterway Group

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