Boris Johnson approves major Isle of Dogs schemes days before leaving office

docklands sailing and watersports centre
Gone with the wind: sailing club worries the Alpha Square tower blocks will change weather conditions

Two major developments on the Isle of Dogs have been given the go ahead by London mayor Boris Johnson just days before he leaves office.

Plans for Alpha Square, a 63-storey residential tower, and media tycoon Richard Desmond’s redevelopment of former Westferry Printworks, were both approved at a public hearing on Wednesday.

Mayor Johnson, who will be stepping down after the London Mayoral elections next week, was not at the hearing himself, leaving Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning Sir Edward Lister to act on his behalf.

Sir Edward gave the green light to the Alpha Square scheme, which will create 634 homes, on the grounds it will include a school, a health centre and provide 25 per cent affordable housing on site.

He said the Westferry Printworks scheme, which is being developed by London & Regional Properties on Desmond’s behalf, would regenerate a long disused site and help bring “enormous benefits” to the area.

Not about money

But residents are “dismayed” by the go-ahead for Westferry Printworks, whose four tower blocks on Millwall Outer Dock threaten to spoil the wind for local community sailing club The Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre.

Chairman Martin Younge said: “We were a bit dismayed to learn they are throwing up this planning consent.

“Coming through the four towers, the wind will be much more turbulent. It can turn over so it comes down on you or it whips around. So trying to get a novice sailor into a boat is hard and the wind won’t be consistent enough for more experience sailors.”

The club expects a 20 per cent reduction in commercial sailing, the proceeds of which they use to offer subsidised or free sailing for young people. The club has asked the developers for £1.26m in compensation, which it would use to reconfigure pontoons, buy new, more adaptable craft, cover the loss of commercial revenue and pay for more staff.

“It’s not about money. It’s about being able to sail,” said Mr Younge. “Tower Hamlets has the lowest amount of sports provision of any London borough. It is nice the docks are used so they are not just ornamental lakes for private housing developments. It is important to retain access for public use.

“There are some good features to the Westferry scheme. But sailing gives young people in particular, who tend to live in flats and apartments, the opportunity to do something new.”

So far the developers have offered the sailing club £546,000 in compensation. In approving the development Sir Edward asked GLA officers to arrange conversations between the developer and the sailing centre for an additional package of compensation to be agreed.

Westferry Printworks development
Tower blockage: an artist’s impression of the Westferry Printworks development


Andrew Wood, Conservative Councillor for Canary Wharf Ward, said he was “disappointed” by the approval of the Westferry Printworks plans, to which he had previously objected.

He said: “I hope that Sir Ed Lister’s request to the developer to offer the sailing centre more compensation to mitigate the damage caused will result in more money. If not this is an issue that will fester for years affecting the public image of this development.”

“I am disappointed in the approval even though the development brings with it a very welcome new secondary school, community centre and green space. We know from wind tunnel testing that a superior design was available.

Commenting on the Alpha Square scheme, Cllr Wood said: “The development provides a new primary school, GP surgery space, hotel jobs and preservation of the North Pole pub which has been welcomed by residents of the area as a link to the past of the island. But the price is another very tall and dense tower along Marsh Wall.”

The 63-storey Alpha Square proposal provoked local criticism due to the impact on daylight and sunlight to the surrounding area. However it will also provide a new 420-place primary school, space for a GP surgery, and the preservation of treasured local pub the North Pole on the Brownfield site.


The fates of Alpha Square and Westferry Printworks were taken out of Tower Hamlets Council’s hands after London Mayor Boris Johnson “called in” the applications, both of which the council had rejected.

During his eight year London Mayorship Johnson has called in 19 planning applications, of which 17 have been approved. Just two decisions remain for his successor to decide on: the Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium and the Bishopsgate Goodsyard site that straddles the Tower Hamlets and Hackney border through Shoreditch.

Johnson was due to decide on the Goodsyard proposals, which would throw up seven towers on the disused Shoreditch High Street site, on 18 April. But the hearing was postponed after Johnson’s own planning officers advised he reject the scheme.

  1. Paul on Friday 29 April 2016 at 3:04 pm

    These developments are unnecessarily big. Boris only OK’d it because Desmond backs Brexit in his newspapers.

  2. Muhammad Haque on Monday 2 May 2016 at 2:24 pm

    How many times does it need to be pointed out that NO CAREERIST in post or on “its” way to another post or in complicit relationship with uncaring, greedy, corrupting influences in Society, will do the right thing unless their career/s is/are in certain danger from those opposing their actions.

    Political campaigning is no picnic.

    Yet in Britain, a certain ‘tradition’ has been established by default whereby factory-produced
    placards appear at very short notice at protest events.

    Thus denying all genuine protesters or campaigners (if they ever exist against the over dominant preponderance of the factory-produced placard couriers) their due say.

    Such robotic, mechanical ‘radical’ or ‘left’ actions undermine genuine actions and opposition.

    So do the “existing” “Tower Hamlets Councillors” offer the due representation against the latest anti-Social anti-East End vandalism by “the London Mayor”?

    I have looked for evidence of any such prospect.

    I have not found any.

    Here is why:

    Your piece apparently quotes a Tower Hamlets Cons Councillor expressing “disappointment” at Boris Johnson’s latest act of (all my words from here on) callous contempt to the Environment, to local people and to accountable local democracy.

    I don’t think that the Cons on Tower Hamlets Council can be treated as if they are impartial on the matter.

    They are also not seriously challenging Boris Jonson at all.

    The Cons’ records show that they were foisted on the East End as part of another guard to continue to support the advancement of the agenda that Heseltine
    had mounted for Thatcher.

    Heseltine was NEVER anything other than an ardent backer of the same thing as Thatcher.

    As a publicity-savvy (Haymarket) careerist, Heseltine was
    able to exploit that facility.

    In the years since the Cons began to make their ‘presence’ on Tower Hamlets Council, they have NOT defended the Community in the East End except when their votes have been literally directly affected.

    Look at their “wards”.

    They are almost all near or around the “Canary Wharf”.

    The Cons are in Tower Hamlets to take over the area and the most physical way that takeover is happening is in the robbery of the Environment, the spaces and the rest.

    In ten years of ‘noticeable’ presence on Tower Hamlets Council, the Cons have NOT made a single substantial move defending the whole Community.

    Boris Johnson’s latest act has been consistent with the vast majority of his acts. Look at Boris Johnson’s career.

    It has been a systematically operated career movement.

    He never was an Ethical Campaigner.
    He abused the given ethical moment.

    So he spoke topically that suggested he was getting the message and what is more, he was ‘prepared to do something’ about it (more below).

    He is no opponent of
    Social Cleansing, although he was callous enough to assume that his stunt years ago suggesting a hint of opposition to Socially Cleansing London would be taken at face value and he would be ‘respected’ having
    a conscience as a political careerist operator.

    Boris Johnson has left transport in London in a state of crisis.

    The buses are NOT running to serve the people of London who need the buses to run properly.

    The underground networks are in dire need of serious work and funding.

    Instead, he has served the Bog Biz Agenda Bosses by overdoing his servility to HS2
    while failing London’s transport infrastructure.

    He has repeatedly jumped on the tag “Crossrail” while that has been given plugs by his Big Biz tycoons-owned Media and then he has abused Crossrail and misallocated it to show he is a servile subject of the Queen.

    As I have pointed out before, Boris was given an easy ride by the Assembly members.
    Not least by the Chair who has played her “local card” with noticeable efficiency.

    Communities across East London have been robbed big time by big biz agent Boris.

    Time there were the long overdue reversals of the damage done in the name of London
    by the occupant in that unaccountable post of Mayor

    1424 GMT London “Bank Holiday” Monday 02 May 2016


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