The council’s CORE STRATEGY will affect all planning decisions for the next 15 years. It aims to deliver 43,200 new homes in the borough with the population increasing by over a third (80,000 people). New ‘Town Centres’ will be created, including Bromley by Bow’s ‘Tesco Town’. Major office building will spread in Aldgate, Spitalfields and Canary Wharf for 100,000 additional office workers, with Stratford a new ‘city’. The council is accepting 10% of all London’s development in an area of less than 8 square miles.
Yet very few people have known about these plans for transforming the borough. After scrutiny by a planning inspector the written document has been judged ‘sound’ according to current planning rules.
The council will vote to pass the strategy on Wednesday September 15 at the Full Council Meeting at the town hall, Mulberry Place, 7.30pm. Councillors say there is a whip in operation to ensure it goes through.
Residents will read a statement at the meeting, summarised as follows:
“The council decided this major 25-year planning strategy without the knowledge or involvement of the vast majority of residents and small business owners in the borough. Even councillors have shown little awareness of the strategy and the effect it will have on the people they represent.
The Core Strategy proposes the highest amount of development in any London borough – increasing the population and number of homes by a third – yet has no plans for how this will improve the lives of the most disadvantaged people and improve the environment for all. The effects of development – pollution and air quality, the strain on schools and doctors, loss of open space, the night-time economy – already affect the health and well-being of residents and contribute to health inequality.
Residents and representatives from the small business community have challenged the Core Strategy because its policies do not reflect their needs and aspirations. It prioritises the expansion of the City and the growth of large retailers and night-life zones. It will not increase parks and open spaces, solve the affordable housing crisis, protect the borough’s smallest businesses or prevent the displacement of communities. We therefore do not endorse the Tower Hamlets Core Strategy as it stands.”
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The Examination of the Strategy
A group of residents and small businesses challenged the Core Strategy at the Public Hearings in April where the council had to justify the policies.
Residents suggested changes to the Strategy to make it more beneficial to people who live in the borough and closer to the aims of the Community Plan, which it is based around.The hearings were the last chance for residents to have a say in the process and consultation figures show that only a tiny 0.3% of the 217,000 people who live in the borough had any input.
Residents’ recommended changes to the Core Strategy:
• Better consultation must take place, with more accessible documentation, to help people participate in planning their lives and neighbourhoods
• Planning must prioritise the health and well-being of people who live in the borough as it becomes more densely populated
• We need much clearer statements about how the Core Strategy will affect different places (including impact of the ‘Town Centre Hierarchy’)
• People should not be pushed out by development
• Affordable housing targets should be enforced, with new methods of funding for housing
• No further loss of green space especially on housing estates. All green space should now be listed and protected.
• Policy should control anti-social tower blocks
• Credible infrastructure planning needed
• All children need a primary school place near their home and all areas should be suitable for families
• Town Centres should not actively encourage night-time zones in residential areas
• Less expansion of the financial sector into adjacent neighbourhoods
• Robust policies to protect local shops, businesses and workspaces and provide affordable premises
• New action is needed to address continuing poverty and inequality – the wealth of the business districts does not ‘trickle down’ to the poorest areas
• More drive to create worthwhile local employment
• Stronger policy in favour of the environment, biodiversity, waterways and carbon reduction
• Encouragement of smaller-scale development and the refurbishment of existing buildings
• More locally-based policy to help create ‘lifetime neighbourhoods’
The residents group that appeared at the Hearings was:
- Mile End Residents Association (MERA)
- Jesus Hospital Estate Residents Association (JHERA) (Columbia Road area)
- Spitalfields Small Business Association
- Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
and other individuals.