Council and London mayor face off over plans for Westferry Printworks

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

Tower Hamlets Council has rejected plans to throw up towers on the site of a former printworks, even though it may be powerless to stop the development.

The planning application for the Westferry Printworks development in Canary Wharf was ‘called in’ by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson in February, giving him the final decision on the scheme.

But in a report published on 12 April, the council’s Strategic Development Committee resolved to inform the mayor that it will reject the planning application if it can.

The report said the new towers would have a negative effect on the nearby the Docklands Sailing & Watersports Centre by creating dangerous wind conditions for young and novice sailors.

It added that the development would fail to provide an adequate amount of affordable housing, and would fail to achieve a mixed and balance community.

The plans, submitted by PLP Architecture, would see the former printworks demolished and replaced with nine buildings ranging from eight to 30 storeys. The buildings include 722 residential units, shops, offices and a sixth form school.

Under the current plans, the development will include 11 per cent affordable housing. An appraisal carried out by the bank BNP Paribas indicated that the development could absorb 36 per cent.

The council’s refusal is only theoretical as following an application in January by developers Northern and Shell, the mayor became the development’s local planning authority.

A Tower Hamlets spokesperson said: “The council’s Strategic Development Committee made its position clear when resolving to refuse this planning application and will restate this position, and in particular the effect on the Dockland Sailing Centre, at the forthcoming Mayor of London’s public hearing.”

The Mayor of London Order 2008 allows the mayor to “call in” planning applications when the development would have a significant impact on the implementation of the London Plan, the development is likely to affect more than one London borough, and there are sound planning reasons for intervention.

In a letter sent to Tower Hamlets Council on 4 February, the mayor said he was calling in the application because “Tower Hamlets Council has fallen short of its housing delivery target” and “the council has identified an established need for additional secondary school places in the Borough”.

The mayor will consider the application in a public consultation on 27 April. GLA officers are advising he grants planning permission.

Northern and Shell and PLP Architecture declined to comment.

1 Comment

  1. Susan lysfjord on Tuesday 26 April 2016 at 8:04 pm

    A plan to get all the extra people on and off the IOD would be good. The travel links are terrible and the roads are even worse .


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