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.

OLYMPIC LEGACY OR OLYMPIC RIP-OFF

In July 2010 we welcomed the news that British Waterways was seeking a commercial operator to run an Olympic passenger boat service between Limehouse Marina and the Olympic Park.

Our hope was that after the Games, the Olympic boats would be used as waterbuses providing a two-way public passenger boat service on the six mile waterway ‘ring’ in Tower Hamlets.

Unfortunately, ten of the fourteen Olympic boats are to be used after the Games as trip boats, day hire boats or holiday boats. Some or all of the trip boats and possibly the day hire boats are more than likely to be used for daytime and evening ‘booze cruises’, disturbing residents in and around Limehouse Marina, and along both sides of the Limehouse Cut, River Lea, Hertford Union Canal and Regent’s Canal.

Furthermore, it seems that all fourteen Olympic boats are to be fitted with diesel engines, so their noise would be disturbing Marina and canalside residents from the planned start of the Olympic service in Spring 2011. There would also be the added risk of oil pollution, leading to the destruction of water habitats and loss of wild life. All the Borough’s residents would, therefore, be denied their enjoyment of the existing habitats and wild life, and the relative peace and quiet of the waterways in Tower Hamlets.

Limehouse Marina (formerly Regent’s Canal Dock) is managed by British Waterways Marinas Limited. They have been having pre-application discussions with Council planners, and will probably be making an application to change 22 existing berths to permanent residential berths. However, they are still having discussions with Council planners and lawyers about their other proposals: eleven or so berths for Olympic boats; and 44 additional residential berths.

It seems that BWML is saying that it does not need planning permission from Tower Hamlets Council for either proposal because British Waterways owns the Marina, and as a statutory undertaker has permitted development rights. A brief look at the relevant part of the Town and Country Planning Act 1995 suggests that BWML may not need planning permission for the 11 or so berths for the Olympic boats (but not a restaurant boat). But may need planning permission for the 44 additional residential berths.

Under permitted development, the pontoons providing the berths for the Olympic passenger boats are knowingly going to be used for a non-permitted purpose in 2012. Trip boats, day hire boats or holiday boats are not for ‘transport of passengers’ but for leisure, which is not one of the purposes for which BW has permitted development rights.

It could be argued, therefore, that such a change of purpose would be an abuse of permitted development rights. Also, that as the granting of ‘change of use’ to leisure in 2012 would probably be a mere formality, the residents of Tower Hamlets would be denied the right to successfully protect their amenity.

The Olympic Legacy is supposed to deliver public transport improvements in the host boroughs. Not subject all the residents living near the waterways (on the six mile ‘ring’) to disturbed evenings and sleepness nights as the Borough’s burgeoning nigh-time economy takes over our waterways.

Party boats or ‘booze cruisers’ are already a serious noise nuisance for residents living on the left bank of the wide River Thames. Even greater numbers of residents live on both sides of our six miles of narrow waterways. And, being much nearer to the ‘booze cruisers’, would suffer even higher levels of unacceptable noise.

The East End Waterway Group calls on the Mayor and all Councillors, and the Chief Executive to make sure that this Olympic rip-off does not destroy the amenity of so many residents. The Council must do all in its power to avoid such an outcome by encouraging BW, BWML and their operators to:

  • fit the Olympic boats with hybrid engines to minimise noise and pollution
  • provide more intermediate stops between Limehouse Marina and the Olympic Park
  • train and employ residents to help run the service
  • provide a ‘peppercorn’ berth for the proposed J-go education/community boat.

And, after the Games, make the intermediate stops waterbus stops and create new waterbus stops along the Hackney Cut, Hertford Union Canal and Regent’s Canal for the two-way (daytime) public passenger boat service for local residents and tourists.

IN OTHER WORDS, AN OLYMPIC LEGACY FOR THE PERMANENT BENEFIT OF THE BOROUGH’S RESIDENTS, PARKS AND OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST ON THE SIX MILE ‘RING’, AND THE LOCAL ECONOMY.

For our part, the EEWG will endeavour to start a dialogue with BW, BWML and their operators to convince them that a two-way waterbus service is urgently needed, and would be used by residents and others. And that with a proper marketing strategy to attract tourists to spend a day or part of a day on EAST END WATERWAYS, the two-way waterbus service would be a commercial success.

NO OTHER LONDON BOROUGH HAS A WATERWAY ‘RING’ AND WE MUST ALL DO WHAT WE CAN TO ENSURE THAT THIS UNIQUE PUBLIC ASSET IS USED IN A SUSTAINABLE AND CONSIDERATE WAY FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL CONCERNED.

THANK YOU, JIM

980 local residents signed our petition to Telereal Trillium. As planned, a group of us gathered at their head office, and our patron Jim Fitzpatrick MP presented the petition before going off to Westminster (see attached PRESS RELEASE).

We are very grateful to Jim for taking the lead in this important campaign to save George Lansbury’s Poplar Employment Exchange at 307 Burdett Road, and ensuring that the fine neo-Georgian building goes on helping unemployed residents in Tower Hamlets.

LAST CHANCE TO SAVE 307

The judicial review of the Council’s designation of the Limehouse Cut Conservation Area (which includes 307 Burdett Road) took place in the High Court over three days in November 2010. All parties are still waiting to hear whether the designation is to be quashed or upheld by Lord Justice Ouseley.

Even so, the Planning Inspectorate is conducting a full PUBLIC INQUIRY in response to Telereal Trillium’s appeal against the Council’s refusal of two planning applications for 307 Burdett Road. The inquiry is to be held in the Council chamber at the Town Hall, starting at 10 am on 1 February. It is scheduled to last five days, but may only last for three or four days. On Wednesday, 2 February, only, the inquiry will be held in rooms 1 and 2, 8th floor ANCHORAGE HOUSE. We must have as many of us as possible in the public gallery. Please do your best to be in the foyer between 9.15 and 9.30 on the first day, and stay for as long as you can. On other days, please turn up when you are able to (see attached copy of notice which appeared in the Christmas issue of East End Life). I have already submitted my comments (on behalf of EEWG) and intend to speak. Hopefully, others will want to speak and must attend on the first day to indicate their wish to speak. As third parties, we have been asked to read from a written statement, and to have copies for the Inspector, Council and Appellants.

ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP

Would all groups please email their willingness to be associate members of the East End Waterway Group.

Please do this as soon as possible –  click here

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