Westferry Printworks tower blocks are a ‘threat to community sailing’

Windy: the site of the proposed Westferry Printworks development. Photograph: London and Regional Properties
Windy: the site of the proposed Westferry Printworks development. Photograph: London and Regional Properties

Plans to demolish Westferry Printworks and build four skyscrapers would damage community sailing on the Thames, according to an environmental report into the scheme.   

The study by engineer consultants Rowan Williams Davies and Irwin, commissioned by developers London and Regional Properties, found the erection of four 30-storey residential towers would have an “adverse and significant” effect on the wind needed for sailing boats to launch.

It said: “With the completed development, over the entire sailing season, the results show a reduction based on a percentage of total time in the sailing quality in the north-west corner of the dock.”

The development would provide 737 residential units, a secondary school, office space, a car park, shops, restaurants, and a park.

The Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre, which runs sailing courses in the affected area, said the proposals could destroy community sailing.

Chairman Martin Younge said: “We think if the plans were to go ahead, our charitable operation would cease to exist. It’s an existential threat to community sailing.”

He said he recognises the need for new housing and a school, but pleaded for developers and the council to address the “detrimental” impact of the development on the sailing centre.

“The young people around here need to be able to use these docks because there’s little for them to do otherwise,” he said. 

Canary Wharf councillor Andrew Wood also voiced concerns over the development, saying that while he largely supports it, the reduction in wind is “one big problem that you can help to resolve”.

The fate of the proposal has been taken out of Tower Hamlets Council’s hands after London Mayor Boris Johnson’s planning unit “called in” the application, ahead of making a decision. 

A spokesman for Mayor Johnson said: “London’s population boom means there is a growing need for housing, secondary school places and open space across Tower Hamlets, all of which will be delivered by this scheme.

“The mayor has called in this application to take a detailed look at the proposals and will take all views from concerned parties into consideration before making a decision in due course.”

Do you sail near the old Westferry Printworks or have a view on this story?

Let us know what you think in the comments below, or email editor@eastendcitizen.co.uk. 

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