Furious residents could take legal action after a developer closed an important walkway between Canary Wharf and Coldharbour.
Canary Wharf Group (CWG) announced the closure on 11 April and shut off the path this Monday.
As many as 1,400 residents could be affected by the closure, which would double the time to walk from Coldharbour to Canary Wharf by diverting pedestrians alongside busy roads.
The closure of the path along the south bank of Blackwall Basin, expected to be in place until 2019, is due to construction work on the Wood Wharf development, which will include thousands of new homes as well as office and retail space.
Residents are up in arms over the lack of public consultation and CWG’s refusal to postpone the closure once concerns were expressed on 11 April.
Campaigners also claim the closure goes against assurances made by the developer during the planning application process to keep the route open. The developer subsequently changed its mind following health and safety concerns.
A meeting was held on Monday evening where residents questioned Howard Dawber, Managing Director of Strategy for CWG. Temporary solutions proposed at the meeting included a shuttle bus service for local residents and a replacement walkway to be constructed on a floating pontoon.
Coldharbour resident Carolina Reyes, told the East End Citizen that residents are now considering legal action against the closure.
She said that the proposed alternative routes from CWG are “horrendously inconvenient, adding half a mile of travel distance” to residents who will now have to “walk over a mile on busy roads with speeding lorries…endangering small children and those who are disabled”.
Councillor Andrew Wood (Conservative) told the East End Citizen that the next step is to “keep pressure on CWG to provide an alternative far sooner than the three years”.
He said: “It’s all part of a general theme: huge amounts of construction with not enough thought about the impact on residents.
“It sends a message to residents that says: ‘You come last in this process’.
“Developers think that to make their site safer they need to push residents further away. But they are pushing them into roads and traffic that are less safe.”
Ms Reyes added: “Canary Wharf Group’s attitude to the whole thing was inconsiderate.
“They’ve really damaged their reputation in the community; they’ve really damaged their credibility.
“The next time CWG submits a planning application residents will do everything in their power to prevent them from being successful.”
Mr Dawber said: “We are sorry that this temporary path through the Wood Wharf construction site cannot be kept open during the next phase of construction.
“We had hoped to maintain a walking route throughout the work, but we now know that it is not possible to do this safely due to the heavy construction across the whole site.
“We understand that a number of residents will have a few minutes longer walk into Canary Wharf, and we would like to apologise to them.
“Local residents are our customers and neighbours, we do not want to inconvenience them unless it is completely unavoidable.
“We have been in touch with local councillors and with Mayor John Biggs, who have raised concerns with us, and we continue to look for possible solutions which will help people while the pathway is closed.
“When the next phase of construction is finished in three years, there will be a permanent new road linking Preston’s Road to Cartier Circle, which will be an excellent connection for local residents.
“In the meantime if it becomes possible to re-open a temporary walkway safely, we will do it.
“We will keep working on other temporary solutions which might make things easier for people.”