Residents First

Tower Hamlets People Network

 

This Wednesday 17th July at 5.30 pm

The Bow Wharf Application returns to

the Development Committee

Officers will present reasons for refusal but their recommendation is still to approve this application.
IT REALLY DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHEN THE COMMITTEE MEMBERS CAN SEE THERE ARE NUMEROUS OBJECTORS IN THE PUBLIC GALLERY, SO PLEASE HAVE A SHEET OF A4 WITH “SAVE BOW WHARF” TO HOLD UP AT CRUCIAL MOMENTS.
(Download and print from here)

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A Brief History of the Application So Far

This application for planning permission was reported to Development Committee on 11th April 2013 with an officers’ recommendation for approval. Members did not accept this officer’s recommendation.
It was then reported back to committee on 15th May 2013 with a reason for refusal based on Members concerns, relating to the impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area. The Committee resolved to defer the application for officers to consider and investigate the possibility of ensuring the s106 contributions are spent only in Bow West. The Committee changed its mind from refusal to approval subject to legal advice on “ring fencing” 106 money for Bow West. (* Note LBTH Legal advised against setting a “ring fence” precedent)
Rather than being reported as a deferred item, the application was subsequently re-presented afresh on the agenda at the Development Committee of the 19th of June 2013. The item was freshly presented, because it was a new municipal year, and thus a new Membership of the committee.
After consideration of this previous report and the update report, Members resolved not to accept the officers’ recommendation and were minded to refuse planning permission due to concerns over:
  • Impacts on the heritage aspects of the site, with emphasis on the height of the proposal;
  • Over development of the site, due to the proposed density;
  • Lack of s106 contributions, with particular regard given to the health contribution; and
  • Lack of affordable housing, in that the scheme failed to achieve 35% affordable housing.
Now at Development Committee this Wednesday, 17th July, 2013 5.30 pm Officers will present their reasons for refusal (read them here). If the application is refused the applicant could appeal the decisions and apply for an award of costs against the Council.

Planning Inspectorate guidance on appeals says:

“Planning authorities are not bound to accept the recommendations of their officers. However, if officers’ professional or technical advice is not followed, authorities will need to show reasonable planning grounds for taking a contrary decision and produce relevant evidence on appeal to support the decision in all respects. If they fail to do so, costs may be awarded against the Council’’.

The new committee has the same chairman and more or less the same members as the one that changed its mind to approve the application on 15th May……

So it is not all over yet! Bow Wharf is a treasure to be protected for all Londoners.

 

July 16th, 2013

Posted In: Conservation, East End Waterway Group

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BOW WHARF APPLICATIONS REFUSED

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UPDATE 6 JULY

The Development Committee

Wednesday, 17th July, 2013 5.30 p.m

Bow Wharf applications PA/11/03371 – 3372 return to the Committee with reasons for refusal.

Full details here – summary of reasons here

At its meeting on 19 June 2013, the Tower Hamlets Development Committee refused the applications for residential development at and adjacent to Bow Wharf (PA/11/03371 – 03372).

The applications were made by H2O Urban on behalf of the Canal and River Trust.

The four members of the Committee were Cllrs. Judith Gardiner, Anwar Khan, Tim Archer and Gulam Robbani.  All voted to refuse the applications because of the proposed height and density, negative impact on heritage value, insufficient 106 money (especially for the Primary Care Trust) and insufficient social housing.

The reasons for refusal will be drawn up by the planners for approval at the July meeting of the Development Committee.

Tom Ridge spoke against the applications on behalf of the East End Waterway Group; and Malcolm Tucker, on behalf of the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society.

They were supported by about 20 people in the public gallery with printed A4 papers saying “SAVE BOW WHARF”.

Before the meeting, EEWG member Lucy Rogers sent the Councillors a set of photographs, which included nine pairs of existing and proposed images (click here to see). This is the first pair showing the entire application site.

Lucy also wrote on behalf of EEWG to Richard Perry, Chief Executive of the Canal and River Trust (read letter here), asking the Trust to withdraw the applications.  We hope that the Trust will now meet with EEWG and GLIAS to discuss Bow Wharf and how it may be better managed to achieve a higher return on commercial lettings; and in the process provide useful facilities and services for residents and visitors.  Especially as Bow Wharf would have been demolished for Mile End Park had it not been for a local campaign to retain and adapt the buildings as an art and community centre.

Not mentioned at Wednesday’s meeting was the fact that the 1901 warehouse is currently well used for functions, which are so well attended that both the Grove Road and Stop Lock Bridge car parks are fully used.  Had the latter been built on, the function business would probably have to move and the warehouse would again be vacant.

Lucy also wrote to Richard Perry, Chief Executive of the Canal and River Trust (click), asking the Trust to withdraw the applications.  We hope that the Trust will now meet with EEWG and GLIAS to discuss Bow Wharf and how it may be better managed to achieve a higher return on commercial lettings; and in the process provide useful facilities and services for residents and visitors.  Especially as Bow Wharf would have been demolished for Mile End Park had it not been for a local campaign to retain and adapt the buildings as an art and community centre.

Not mentioned at Wednesday’s meeting was the fact that the 1901 warehouse is currently well used for functions, which are so well attended that both the Grove Road and Stop Lock Bridge car parks are fully used.  Had the latter been built on, the function business would probably have to move and the warehouse would again be vacant.

Tom Ridge said:

I am speaking on behalf of the East End Waterway Group, and at least 234 petitioners, 82 letter-writers and 137 people who have completed the recent standard letter (most of whom are residents and are new objectors).

As you will see from the existing and proposed images we sent you, Bow Wharf is the jewel in the Borough’s six-mile waterway ring for residents and visitors.  No other London Borough has a six-mile waterway ring, because the East End was the largest industrial area in London when London was the largest industrial city in the world and the greatest port in the world.  Most of our canals are in conservation areas, and Bow Wharf is the most important part of the Regent’s Canal Conservation Area because it contains three unique heritage assets:

  • the Grade II listed Stop Lock Bridge; and – I quote from the Conservation Area character appraisal:
  • a 1901 three-storey canalside warehouse (not a British Waterways warehouse)
  • a two-storey paint factory of 1912 with a brick lean-to and a square chimney shaft surviving from an 1896 steam sawmill (not a glue factory).

They constitute two of only three locally-listed former industrial buildings in Tower Hamlets; and are among the Borough’s few examples of the successful adaptive re-use of such buildings.

The planning inspector at the 2005 public inquiry called them “converted warehouses”, and indicated that the height of new additions should be restricted to provide a contrast to the converted warehouses.

As you will see from the images we sent you, the three proposed buildings are higher than the converted warehouses.  That they have been given pitched roofs to match the 1901 warehouse does not mitigate the fact that their design, height, bulk, scale and position

“would fail to preserve or enhance the open character and appearance of this part of the Regent’s Canal Conservation Area”.

I quote from the officer’s reason for refusal at 6.3 in the report presented at the Development Committee meeting on 15th of May (pages 97-101 in your agenda).

The reason for refusal goes on to list all the Council’s and national policies which would be contravened by this proposal; and explains their purpose, which includes

“that development takes account of local context”.

Two appeals have been refused by the planning inspectorate, and as the decision of 2005 was upheld by the decision of 2010, the applicant and owners have a responsibility to comply with the planning inspectorate principle that new additions are no higher than the converted warehouses.  Especially, as the owners (Canal and River Trust) have a statutory duty to maintain the waterway heritage, and should not be sacrificing part of the heritage to pay for repairs and improvements elsewhere.

Malcolm Tucker said:

Hello.  I am speaking for the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society.

At its April meeting, the Development Committee refused the application, because of the damage to the Conservation Area. I understand you are now a ‘new’ committee and you must consider the Application afresh.

The combination of the historic canal junction and its bridge, the significant canal warehouse and the comparative openness of the setting make this is a very special place within the Conservation Area. The impression from the Regent’s Canal is of leafy trees and brick walls, with the 3-storey warehouse as the one big building, set some way back. This is now the only place in this Conservation Area where one can still appreciate the old, low-density canalside character. So it needs protection.

The proposals introduce a 5½  storey block and a 4 storey block, crowded around a quite small yard and overhanging it, and a third block squeezed in to the west. The tallest block hides  the warehouse  from the main towpath and dominates it from the other direction.  How can such changes in scale and mass  be acceptable?

The buildings are so tight for space that they have obtrusive balconies jutting out all round.  It is argued that there is not room to recess these balconies, so they have to be accepted. That is putting the cart before the horse – the flats are small because there will be too many flats on the site.

The Officer’s report is thorough, but where it considers the effects on the conservation Area its judgements are biased, towards a developer’s viewpoint. And the Applicant’s supplementary appraisal, which may have swayed the May meeting, is very selective in its chosen view points and angles. The fact is the scheme fails to preserve the character of the Conservation Area or enhance it, as it is required to do, and I ASK YOU TO REJECT IT.

NOTIFICATION OF CHANGE TO MISSION STATEMENT

As British Waterways is now the Canal and River Trust, we need to amend the Mission Statement.  Assuming that all EEWG members and others are agreeable the next newsletter or newsflash will have reference to Canal and River Trust instead of British Waterways.

Tom Ridge
For and on behalf of East End Waterway Group

June 22nd, 2013

Posted In: Conservation, East End Waterway Group

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TOWER HAMLETS STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE DECIDES FATE OF WOOLMORE PRIMARY SCHOOL

An officer’s report packed with misinformation about the historic school building, plus a petition from 236 local residents in support of the Council’s proposed four-storey school, and a large attendance of teachers, parents and pupils at last night’s meeting ensured that the committee reversed its previous decision and voted unanimously for the four-storey primary school.

 

The conservation officer’s decision not to add the historic school building to the local list meant that some members thought that I had misinformed them about the significance of Woolmore Primary School.

 

Everything I have said and written about the 1916 school building is true and based on extensive research.  Unfortunately, I am not a published architectural historian and that made it easy for the officer to dismiss my evidence.  The fact remains that there is no other school building like Woolmore in the whole of London; and although vent stacks are a feature of the LCC’s Neo-Georgian elementary schools opened between 1912 and 1918, Woolmore is the only one with a highly visible and distinctive row of seven massive vent stacks.

 

Woolmore is not only a beautiful and unique building it is also a good and useful school building.  With proper adaptation and refurbishment, all its alleged problems could have been solved; and would have been had the Birds Portchmouth Russum (BPR) scheme been given proper consideration by all concerned.

 

At least one member appeared not to be aware of this alternative scheme, which would have made the 1916 building “fit for purpose” and extended it with two new additions for a total of about 638 pupils.  Clearly, the BPR scheme was not a proposal to just maintain the façade of Woolmore Street.  Facadism is dishonest and not even mentioned in English Heritage’s recent report Refurbishing historic school buildings.

 

I have tried many times to draw attention to this report, which relates to all historic school building regardless of whether they are listed or not.  Nothing one says or does makes any difference in Tower Hamlets, where all decisions about school buildings are made by Tower Hamlets Schools Limited; and nothing is done by the Council to dispel the general belief that only brandnew school buildings can provide high-quality education.

 

Had the BPR scheme been given proper consideration by all concerned, the older pupils at Woolmore would have had the addition advantage of specialist rooms (not provided in the Council’s four-storey school) and all the pupils would have been able to get around easily and feel at home in two two-storey buildings.  Instead, they will have to cope with an intimidating and physically challenging four-storey primary school, with a teaching block served only by one very small lift, one safe wide staircase and one unsafe narrow staircase.  In the original plans, shown to and voted for by the parents, the teaching block was served by two safe wide staircases.

image SE
Click image to enlarge – see the BPR scheme here

The tragedy of Woolmore is not just that a fantastic opportunity has been lost (and Poplar will lose yet another good historic building), but also the clear message from the conservation officer that he is not going to locally list any building on an existing or future development site.  The Committee’s unanimous decision also gives the green light to all those other headteachers and parents who are demanding a brandnew school, rather than an adapted and refurbished school with new additions.

 

Many more unprotected historic buildings are now likely to be demolished and added to the growing list of demolished historic school buildings in Tower Hamlets.  This includes Bonner Primary School, Mowlem Nursery, Christian Street School, Buckland Street School, the original board school building at Morpeth Secondary School, Woolmore Infants’ School (in Bullivant Street), and now Woolmore Primary School.

 

Our petition for local listing and the BPR scheme was signed by a total of 186 supporters.  The paper version was signed by 3 non-residents and 116 LBTH residents, of whom 79 live at Robin Hood Gardens (not mentioned in the officer’s update report).  The online petition was signed by 67 supporters.

 

For Notes on Significance of Woolmore Primary School see here.  For misinformation, see April letter to Council Helal Abbas.  For the school and community benefits of the BPR scheme, see April message to Mayor and Councillors.

 

Tom Ridge

April 19th, 2013

Posted In: Conservation

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Sign the petition to support expansion of the school without demolition

Woolmoore Sch front elevation

See a new photo gallery of the school

Last month Tower Hamlets councillors voted to refuse plans for a new four-storey primary school and demolition of the current school. But now council officers are trying to make the councillors reverse their decision when the committee meets again on Thursday 18 April 2013.

The officer’s report for this meeting of the  Strategic Development Committee (item 6.1) is now available.

 

Officers say that the loss of the building would be “outweighed by the substantial public benefit of providing a high quality new three form entry school”. As predicted in the March email, the committee report contains a great deal of further justification for demolition.  Both this and the short reason for refusal are designed to change the committee’s March 6 decision to one in favour of the Council’s proposed four-storey primary school, which involves the total demolition of the existing historic school building.

The new school building proposed by the Council’s department for “Education Social Care and Wellbeing” 

 

 

Image removed

 

 

Section 4 of the report includes various representations from the school and others in support of the Council’s proposed four-storey primary school.  Including a petition with 236 signatures (with local postcodes). The wording of this petition is not known.

 

To continue the campaign, a letter to the Mayor and Councillors (with photographs) has been sent.  Please read it carefully, as the first part sets out the advantages of the alternative scheme drawn up by Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects.  The last part explains what happened to the request to register Woolmore School as a Locally Listed building.

 

Ariel_view_woolmore_primary_w600

An alternative plan (click here to view large version)The school must expand from one to three forms of entry. This can be done without demolition. Blackwall Reach Regeneration Area needs at least one retained heritage asset, to maintain a sense of place and community pride. The alternative ideas above show that this heritage asset can be retained and the boroughs needs met.

 

It is also hoped to send an email about the officer’s report to the Chair, members and deputies of the Strategic Development Committee.  A copy will be sent to you in the next couple of days.

 

Please re-double your efforts to get many more signatures on our online and/or paper petitions, especially local postcode signatures.

 

Please also do your best to come along to the public gallery on the 18th to scrutinise the decision-making process and support the refurbishment of the school.

See details of the alternative ideas here that will allow school to be enlarged yet retain the original building

TO PARENTS, TEACHERS AND GOVERNORS AT WOOLMORE PRIMARY SCHOOL, LBTH EDUCATION, SOCIAL CARE & WELLBEING, CHAIR & MEMBERS OF THE STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, SUPPORT THE REQUEST TO ADD WOOLMORE PRIMARY SCHOOL TO THE LOCAL LIST OF HERITAGE ASSETS; AND SUPPORT THE PROPOSAL TO RETAIN AND ADAPT THE HISTORIC SCHOOL BUILDING FOR THREE FORMS IN YEARS 5 AND 6 AND BUILD A NEW LINKED SCHOOL BUILDING TO THE EAST FOR NURSERY, RECEPTION AND THREE FORMS IN YEARS 1, 2, 3 & 4 (as shown on the sketch plans by Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects)


Petition is now closed

67 signatures sent to LBTH

 

Tom Ridge (SAVE WOOLMORE PRIMARY SCHOOL)

7 Shepton Houses
Welwyn Street
London E2 0JN (02008 981 7361)

April 15th, 2013

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The unique Woolmore Primary School is under threat of demolition as part of the extensive Blackwall Reach Regeneration scheme. The school must expand from one to three forms of entry. This can be done without demolition. Blackwall Reach Regeneration Area needs at least one retained heritage asset, to maintain a sense of place and community pride. The alternative ideas below show that this heritage asset can be retained and the boroughs needs met.

TO PARENTS, TEACHERS AND GOVERNORS AT WOOLMORE PRIMARY SCHOOL, LBTH EDUCATION, SOCIAL CARE & WELLBEING, CHAIR & MEMBERS OF THE STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, SUPPORT THE REQUEST TO ADD WOOLMORE PRIMARY SCHOOL TO THE LOCAL LIST OF HERITAGE ASSETS; AND SUPPORT THE PROPOSAL TO RETAIN AND ADAPT THE HISTORIC SCHOOL BUILDING FOR THREE FORMS IN YEARS 5 AND 6 AND BUILD A NEW LINKED SCHOOL BUILDING TO THE EAST FOR NURSERY, RECEPTION AND THREE FORMS IN YEARS 1, 2, 3 & 4 (as shown on the sketch plans by Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects)

Petition is now closed

67 signatures sent to LBTH

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Ariel_view_woolmore_primary_w600

Click image to see larger version

 

Woolmore Primary School must expand from one to three forms of entry and LBTH (Education, Social Care and Wellbeing) has already secured outline planning permission for a four-storey replacement primary school on the extended site of the existing two-storey Woolmore Primary School (opened by the London County Council in 1916).

 

However, at its meeting on 6 March 2013, the LBTH Strategic Development Committee refused (by four votes to three) a reserved matters application which included a justification for the demolition of the existing two-storey school building (PA/12/03318).

 

Reasons for refusal and further justifications for demolition will be presented at the committee’s next meeting on 18 April 2013. The committee will therefore be obliged to reconsider demolition and may grant full planning permission for the proposed four-storey replacement primary school building (with only one internal staircase) next to the northern entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel).

 

So that all concerned may give proper consideration to the refurbishment and extension of this beautiful historic school building (as recommended in English Heritage’s Refurbishing Historic School Buildings (2010):

  • Tom Ridge has asked for the historic school building to be added to the LBTH Local List of heritage assets
  • Award-winning Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects have drawn up sketch plans (PDF Doc) which demonstrate how the existing school building can be adapted for three forms in years 5 and 6, extended north to include a new multi-purpose hall and kitchen and linked to a new two-storey school building to the east for nursery, reception and three forms in years 1, 2, 3 and 4.
  • The local listing request and the architects’ sketch plans are both fully supported by the Twentieth Century Society, which has been concerned for over a year about the loss of the historic school building and its embodied energy.

 

To encourage all concerned to give proper consideration to the refurbishment and extension of the historic school building please sign the online petition by 4 pm 17 April 2013 (and encourage others to sign) so that it can be reported to the Strategic Development Committee at its meeting on 18 April 2013. As there are no speaking rights at this meeting, a brief letter to [email protected] would also help.

 

NOTES ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WOOLMORE PRIMARY SCHOOL

 

Woolmore Primary School is described in The Buildings of England London 5: East as “Neo-Georgian with a severe row of tall chimneys and elegantly bracketed eaves.” (p. 648).

 

The “chimneys” are in fact upper-stage vent stacks for the removal of stale air from classrooms. Even so, as the building is good enough to be positively described in “Pevsner” it is surely good enough to be cherished by the local community and added to the LBTH Local List of heritage assets.

 Woolmore

  • the school is one of the finest and most distinguished of the LCC’s Neo-Georgian elementary schools
  • of the 33 surviving examples (opened between 1912 and 1918) it is the only one with a highly visible and very distinctive row of seven massive upper-stage vent stacks (on the south side of its classroom range)
  • only 13 of the surviving examples have pitched and hipped roofs with curved lower slopes over white boxed eaves
  • the school is one of a few with its original white boxed eaves, which are probably the only ones with particularly elegant wrought-iron eaves and gutter brackets
  • the convex brackets are complemented by the semi-circular relieving arches over the ground-floor classroom windows
  • the school also retains most of its original cast-iron rainwater goods
  • the school is in fact the least altered of the three surviving 1912-1918 LCC Neo-Georgian elementary school buildings in LB Tower Hamlets.

Apart from the post-WW2 rebuilt north-eastern part of the building and replacement roof cladding, the exterior and interiors of Woolmore Primary School are more or less as completed in 1916 as a two-storey school for boys and girls. The plastic replacement windows detract from the appearance of the building. They could and should be replaced by appropriate wooden window frames with double glazing, fully set back within the existing reveals.

 

The 1913 ‘heritage’ building at the Bow School of Maths and Computing in Paton Close is a very impressive locally-listed three-storey school building for boys, girls and infants with white rendered upper walls. However, the top floor of its main central part has been completely remodelled to form a sports hall under a (concealed) new roof.

 

Osmani Primary School is a long three-storey school building opened in 1915 for boys, girls and infants with the same planform and (similar) roofs as Woolmore Primary School but with red-brick instead of yellow-brick walls. It is the only surviving 1912-18 school with six side-wall, upper-stage vent stacks between seven gables (in the south wall of its classroom range). However, during its post-WW2 use as a boys’ secondary scshool, it was extended at both ends to include a three-storey science wing and a very large gymnasium.

 

Clearly, Woolmore Primary School must be added to the LBTH Local List of heritage assets and retained as a beautiful and useful part of an enlarged Woolmore Primary School. Especially, as its two associated buildings in Bullivant Street are to be demolished:

  • the derelict single-storey former LCC Woolmore Street Infants’s School of 1914
  • the derelict single-storey former LCC Woolmore Street Manual Training Centre of 1910, which provided woodwork lessons for boys at the Woolmore Street Boys & Girls School and other council schools in the vicinity.

This part of the very extensive Blackwall Reach Regeneration Area needs at least one retained heritage asset, to maintain a sense of place and community pride. Especially as it is right next to the All Saints’ Conservation Area, where the setting of the church and the conservation area is to be destroyed by a massive tower block on the site of the former infants’ school between Bullivant Street and Cotton Street.

 

Tom Ridge (SAVE WOOLMORE PRIMARY SCHOOL)
7 Shepton Houses
Welwyn Street
London E2 0JN (0208 981 7361)

April 3rd, 2013

Posted In: Conservation

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Quick update ~ LBTH Development Committee reject alterations for Club Row…. for now. 3 against – Uddin – Aston – Khatun against – Abbas abstained.

 

STOP THE PROPOSED ALTERATIONS TO CLUB ROW’S UNIQUE FORMER INFANTS’ SCHOOL OF 1879

See some comments received so far

 
 Click box below to sign the on-line petition
click here

Click here to sign

Petition - Former infants' school in Club Row - GoPetition


Mary Jane Ingham, headmistress of the Nichol Street Infants’ School, wrote in the school log book on July 1881 that the “playground … is entirely covered in by a low zinc roof“.
 
This was just two and a half years after the newly-built school had been opened in January 1879; and as the metal roof is not recorded as additional or subsequent work (in the very comprehensive SBL Works Committee Minutes), the roof must have been erected by the contractors Kirk & Randall, as part of their contract.  The work would have included the existing wrought-iron roof trusses and the existing eight Rochelle_infants_Club-Row_2012_w250iron-barred openings, to light and ventilate the fully-covered roof playground.
 
The School Board Architect E.R. Robson planned and designed the single-storey infants’ school and the adjacent two-storey boys’ and girls’ school.  Both were on such small separate sites that he gave each building a flat roof for a school playground.  On the two-storey building, the girls’ roof playground was provided with a ‘covered playground’ on each wing for shelter during wet weather.  Their walls survive but only the eastern walls still have their original wrought-iron roof trusses.
 
Robson in School Architecture (1874) makes several recommendations for infants’ schools, including:
 
An exercising or marching ground, and a playground, are both necessary adjuncts to an Infant School.  The former should be covered … The children attending school should be able to have marching exercise all the year round.  It is important that they should breathe fresh air frequently and that the feet should be kept dry. (p. 191)
 
The only way Robson could provide a playground and a covered marching ground for the infants at Nichol Street was to make the roof playground also serve as a marching ground, and cover the entire flat roof with a metal roof on its eight enclosing walls.
 
E.R. Robson planned and designed a total of thirty detached single-storey infants’ schools (with schoolrooms), nearly all had pitched roofs and enough space for a playground and a separate covered marching ground.  The Nichol Street Infants’ School was the only one on such a small site that it had to have a flat roof for its combined playground and covered marching ground.  It is, therefore, the only one of the thirty infants’ schools to have been provided with a fully-covered roof playground; and a special “easy staircase” for the infants to climb up to their covered playground and covered marching ground.
 
Slum property was difficult and expensive to acquire for redevelopment.  The School Board for London had done its best, but faced with these two small separate sites, Robson did even better for the poor children of the Nichol.  Especially the infants.  He gave them four extra-tall classrooms (including one as a nursery for children under three) and the widest, tallest, longest and most embellished schoolroom in London; and London’s only “easy staircase” for infants; and London’s only fully-covered roof playground and marching ground for infants.
 
Twenty-five of Robson’s thirty detached single-storey infants’ schools (with schoolrooms) have been demolished; and the former Nichol Street Infants’ School is the least altered of the five surviving examples.
 
The Nichol Street Infants’ School Log Book 1873-1905
(London Metropolitan Archives)
All three Nichol Street Schools were started by the School Board for London in 1872 at the Old Nichol Street Ragged School (built 1866).
 
School Board for London Works Committee Minutes 1871-1904
(London Metropolitan Archives)
Both school buildings were planned and designed in 1876 and built 1877-79.  All the minutes from 1874 to 1904 were examined without finding any references to the pitched and hipped roof or the eight barred openings
…..and more about the school here.
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Tom Ridge (0208 981 7361)
7 Shepton Houses, Welwyn, London E2 0JN
6 December 2012

January 29th, 2013

Posted In: Conservation

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PA/12/2233 and 2234

I strongly object to the application to demolish the closed toilet block in Museum Gardens, and to replace it with a multi-purpose bicycle park. The application ignores the fact that the toilet block is part of Museum Gardens. And Museum Gardens (together with Paradise Gardens) is on the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

 

This is a material consideration and as such the application must be withdrawn to allow the Council to make proposals which respect the site’s double protection (as part of a designated heritage asset within the Bethnal Green Gardens Conservation Area); and fully address the several problems in the vicinity.

 

The English Heritage registration of the two gardens recognises them as former parts of the manorial common or waste known as Bethnal Green, and subject to the Poor’s Land Trust deed of 1690 “for the prevention of any new buildings thereon“. Consequently, The London Museum Site Act of 1868 authorised the Trustees to sell land for a proposed museum provided that certain conditions were met. Two of the conditions recited in the conveyance were that the land was for museum buildings only; and that the land not needed for the museum “shall be laid out and for ever maintained .. as an ornamental garden“. The government which provided the museum was therefore also obliged to open the land not needed for the museum as a public garden. Bethnal Green Museum Garden was opened and “dedicated to the public forever” in May 1875. Ownership and maintenance was subsequently passed to the London County Council, on its formation in 1888.

 

In 1958, the Metropolitan Borough of Bethnal Green was urgently seeking a site for a public convenience at the crossroads. The LCC gave permission for a toilet block provided its design was approved by the LCC; and (mindful of its legal responsibilities) granted a licence which the Borough was obliged to renew on a yearly basis. The low single-storey block was opened in 1960 in a sufficiently restrained style to respect St John’s Church and Museum Gardens, and a single entrance only from Cambridge Heath Road via the ‘landing’ at the top of the northern staircase to the tube station.

 

I recognise that there is an urgent need to provide a public convenience at the crossroads, proper bicycle storage for tube passengers, and a refreshment facility to replace the unsightly and obstructive coffee stall on the ‘landing’ at the top of the northern staircase to the tube station. However, the proposed reuse of the toilet block site appears to have been driven move by the availability of funds for improving bicycle provision and a spare Automativ Public Convenience (APC) than a genuine desire to provide facilities without destroying the special character of this part of the Bethnal Green Gardens Conservation Area.

 

In my opinion, too many conflicting uses are being crammed onto this small site with no consideration given to the site as part of a doubly-protected heritage asset; and the need to ensure that the site is safe for all users and does not add to the several problems in the vicinity.

  1. The existing coffee stall is not only unsightly but severely reduces the circulation area on the ‘landing’ at the top of the northern staircase to the tube station. As the stallholder pays rent to Transport for London and there is nothing in the application to indicate that it would be replaced by the proposed mobile kiosk (in the proposed multi-storey bicycle park) it is more than likely to stay, and serve more customers than the less accessible proposed mobile kiosk.
  2. Cyclists are shown on the proposed site plan cycling from the ‘landing’ into the proposed multi-purpose bicycle park. This would be across the two-way flow of pedestrians on the ‘landing’ at the top of the northern staircase to the tube station. As well as cyclists using the ‘landing’ entrance, there would also be pedestrians trying to get to the proposed mobile kiosk and the proposed APC in the proposed multi-purpose bicycle park.
  3. A right-angular wall is shown projecting into the ‘landing’ from the entrance to the proposed bicycle park (allegedly to force cyclists to dismount). This would further impede two-way pedestrian flow to and from the northern staircase: adding to the congestion on the ‘landing’ and making it even more difficult and dangerous for pedestrians using the ‘landing’.
  4. As the proposed bicycle park would also be accessed from the park during the park opening times, cyclists would also cycle into or through Musuem Gardens, and through the entrance which would be partly occupied by the mobile kiosk. This entrance would be congested by pedestrians using the kiosk and by pedestrians trying to get to the proposed APC from Museum Gardens.
  5. The proposed multi-purpose bicycle park would only provide stands for 75 bicycles when there are already at least 100 bicycles chained to the railings and the pavement fences between the bus stop and the tube entrance. Furthermore, the application itself acknowledges “the likelihood of bicycles continuing to be chained to railings despite notices that will state that this is no longer an option“. Clearly, proper bicycle storage for tube passengers should not only meet present needs but also future needs; and must be accompanied by effective enforcement by the official removal of improperly chained bicycles.
  6. The mobile kiosk shown in the Museum Gardens entrance would not be “present over night“, but there are no arrangements for its overnight storage. Also shown near the proposed entrance are two tables and eight chairs in the pathway from the Museum Garden gates in Cambridge Heath Road. As the mobile kiosk would have to pay rent to Tower Hamlets Council (and would be in competition with all the existing cafes in the vicinity, including the coffee stall should it remain), the operator is likely to put out more tables and chairs to attract customers in order to continue the business and pay the rent. The additional tables and chairs would almost certainly obstruct the regular two-way flow of pedestrians through Museum Gardens and this would probably lead to tables and chairs spreading across the grassed areas in the south-west corner of Museum Gardens. I should add that I think it perfectly acceptable that people continue to drink coffee and eat snacks in the Gardens on the existing seats or on the grass.
  7. The proposed APC would not be free and apart from being totally inadequate for the numbers of users able to pay, it would not be used by other unable to pay. As a result, Museum Gardens (and other areas in the vicinity) would be more widely used as a public toilet because the shrubbed border to the east of the closed toilet block would be less likely to be used as a public toilet following the removal of the closed toilet block.
  8. In relation to St John’s Church and Museum Gardens, the proposed APC, bicycle park and mobile kiosk would be more detrimental to the character and appearance of this part of the Bethnal Green Gardens Conservation Area than the existing toilet block. Obviously this is an eyesore at present but it could and should be retained, refubished and adapted for use as a café with public toilets. I am aware of at least one developer who was in talks with the Council to convert the block along these lines. Such an approach would not involve the Council in massive capital expenditure, and would bring an enhanced public facility back into use and (subject to negotiations) replace the unsightly and obstructive coffee stall.
  9. The bicycles chained to the railings and the pavement fences between the bus stop and the tube entrance are a separate problem which is the responsibility of Tower Hamlets Council and Transport for London: practically all the bicycles belong to tube passengers; and alternative and fully effective arrangements for bicycle storage should not be provided in the registered Museum Gardens and particularly not next to the listed St John’s Church.

 

A far less sensitive location at the crossroads would be at or near the southern end of the registered Paradise Gardens. This also has the great merit of being open to Cambridge Heath Road and Bethnal Green Road: and cyclists would be more willing to use it than the proposed enclosed bicycle park where thieves could more easily operate. However, it should not be of a size detrimental to Paradise Gardens and the listed Georgian terrace.

 

An additional and larger bicycle park could and should be provided on one or both sides of the very wide footpath between Cambridge Heath Road and Bethnal Green Library. From here it is but a short walk to the south-eastern staircase to the tube station (on the corner of Cambridge Heath Road and Roman Road).

 

Both alternative sites would provide stands for all the bicycles currently chained to railings and pavement fences; and the wide footpath to the library could accommodate more stands as necessary. Furthermore, neither site would involve the cost of demolition, and the available funds would probably more than cover the costs for both sites. As practically all the bicycles belong to tube passengers it should be the responsibility of Transport for London to remove improperly chained bicycles in the vicinity of the tube station.

 

The provision of the two alternative sites would remove cyclists and their bicycles from one of the busiest pedestrian areas in the Borough; and allow the refurbished and adapted 1960 toilet block to be reopened as a more than adequate and safe refreshment facility and public convenience for people using Museum Gardens, Paradise Gardens and Bethnal Green Gardens (including visitors to the Stairway to Heaven); and tube and bus passengers, local residents, visitors and tourists, especially those staying at all the new hotels in Cambridge Heath Road.

 

Having allowed these hotels, the Council should at least ensure that, after years of neglect, the heart of Bethnal Green ‘town centre’ is improved to the highest possible standard to complement the Stairway to Heaven and associated improvements in Bethnal Green Gardens, near the south-eastern tube entrance.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Ridge

 

September 29th, 2012

Posted In: Bethnal Green Gardens, Conservation

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Today (Thursday) the Strategic Development Committee at LBTH will consider the Blackwall Reach planning application (PA-12-00001-2)

This application is going to Committee with LBTH planing officers recommendation for approval. This decision seems to indicate (as some of us suspected already) that some LBTH planers live in a bizarre Nania type land accessed through the back of a plan chest on the 5th floor of Anchorage House.

Along with concerns expressed by CABE, English Heritage, Twentieth Century Society, GLA and local residents groups (Millennium Green Trust, All Saints Church and Poplar Mosque & Community Centre) Thames Gateway Development Corporation officers are recommending that the portion of the Blackwall Reach development they are responsible for as the planing authority be refused. This is what they say…..RH Gardens

GLA has advised:-

….the proposal does not presently comply with the London Plan……. The principle of development at this density is not justified in terms of creating a sustainable community……

TFL say:-

The application indicates that Preston’s Road roundabout is currently operating at capacity and will be over capacity in future years as a result of this and other developments in the area. The report also suggests that Poplar High Street east will be very close to capacity.

CABE have indicated:-

In terms of the overall masterplan, CABE consider that there is a lack of clear logic in defining building blocks, spaces and routes. There are concerns that the open spaces will be fractured and overshadowed by the taller buildings and that the north-south route through the site could be detrimental to the quality of Cotton Street.

And English Heritage:-

We recommend that the Council seek amendments with regard to the scale and form of Blocks A1, B, C1, O and N and that additional detail is obtained at this stage, particularly with regard to these aspects of the development.

Twentieth Century Society:-

Re Woolmore School (to be demolished) – Despite the replacement fenestration, we consider main neo-Georgian part of this building makes a positive contribution to the townscape, and urge Tower Hamlets Planning Authority to reject plans incorporating its demolition

The Twentieth Century Society consider that the existing Robin Hood Gardens Estate have very high heritage significance and therefore strongly object to the proposed demolition.

So why are the unelected officers in Tower Hamlets so keen to get this through…..

This application was only submitted in January 2012 and LBTH, the applicants along with the HCA, have been pushing this through at speed in order to hopefully gain a positive recommendation prior to the introduction of the Mayor Boris’s Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to help fund Crossrail. This new charge will be collected by the borough and is set at £35 per square metre of any new development.

From the report to LTGDC Developement Commttee 19 th March recommending refusal (full report download here  on the LTGDC’s Planning website)

10. CONCLUSION AND REASONS REFUSAL

10.1 This report has outlined all material planning considerations associated with this development and has focused on the area for determination by the Corporation. It is recognised that the delivery of affordable housing is a priority for the Borough and that this site is identified as a location for the delivery of housing led redevelopment. However, having balanced these local needs against the quality of accommodation being delivered, officers can draw no other conclusion other than that at the time of completing this report the scheme will not deliver adequate standards of residential amenity in the Blocks located in the Corporation’s Planning Functions Area. Specifically, and on the information provided in the application information and independent reviews, it is considered that Blocks J, K, M, N, P, O and Q will receive insufficient levels of daylight to be considered acceptable. Much emphasis has been placed on the detailed design of these development blocks, particularly through the controls within the Design Code. With this in mind, Members requested at the Committee Meeting of the 8th of March that it be demonstrated that it is possible to rectify the failures shown at outline stage in the detailed design at reserved matters stage. At the time of writing, no further information has been provided.

11. REASON FOR REFUSAL

The proposal, by virtue of the inadequate levels of daylight and sunlight to blocks J, K, M, N, O, P, and Q, is considered to result in a substandard level of residential amenity to future occupiers and is therefore contrary to policy 7.7 of the London Plan 2011, policies DEV1 and DEV27 of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Interim Planning Guidance (2007) for the purposes of development control, policy DM25 of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Managing Development Plan Document (proposed submission version January 2012).

 

March 14th, 2012

Posted In: Conservation

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Appeal Decisions

  • Inquiry held on 1 February 2011
  • Site visit made on 8 February 2011 by Christine Thorby MRTPI, IHBC an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Decision date: 17 May 2011

Appeal A: APP/E5900/A/10/2131760 – 307 Burdett Road, London E14 7DR

  • The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant planning permission.
  • The appeal is made by Trillium (Prime) Property Group Ltd against the decision of the Council of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
  • The application Ref PA/09/00214, dated 6 February 2009, was refused by notice dated 6 January 2010.
  • The development proposed is the erection of a part 6 and part 11 storey building and lower ground floor level adjacent to Limehouse Cut to provide 56 residential units, 658 square metres of commercial floor space (use Class A1/A3 and A4) at ground and lower ground floor level, cycle parking, amenity space and other associated works.

Appeal B: APP/E5900/E/10/2131773 – 307 Burdett Road, London E14 7DR

  • The appeal is made under sections 20 and 74 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 against a refusal to grant conservation area consent.
  • The appeal is made by Telereal Trillium against the decision of the Council of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
  • The application Ref PA/10/00510, dated 9 March 2010, was refused by notice dated 5 May 2010.
  • The demolition proposed is of the existing part 2 and part 3 storey vacant unemployment benefit office building plus basement and a single storey wing at the rear.

Decision

I allow appeal A, and grant planning permission for the erection of a part 6 and part 11 storey building and lower ground floor level adjacent to Limehouse Cut to provide 56 residential units, 658 square metres of commercial floor space (use Class A1/A3 and A4) at ground and lower ground floor level, cycle parking, amenity space and other associated works at 307 Burdett Road,
London E14 7DR in accordance with the terms of the application, Ref PA/09/00214, dated 6 February 2009, subject to the conditions set out in Annex A.

Read all here – Appeal Decisions

Costs Decisions

I refuse the applications for an award of costs for appeal A and appeal B.

Read all here – Cost Decisions

 

307 plan

Planned building for the site of 307

 

May 19th, 2011

Posted In: Conservation, East End Waterway Group

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