Tower Hamlets continues to be rocked by outbreaks of democracy since the departure of whatsisname.
The conversation reproduced below illustrates what democracy means to four chaps. The conversation was overheard in the Town Hall gents toilets. (Warning: contains strong language and naughty words).
Chap 1: “Thats it then, we are fooked now, bloody fooked!”
Chap 2: “We have been had over, we were told this would go through!”,
Chap 1: “We are fooking fooked now!”
Chap 2: “I nae laddy, I nae, I nae!”
This verbatim account of emotive regional patois was the reaction of four Scottish
geezers in cheap suits men believed to be property developers overheard in the toilets after the Tower Hamlets Council Strategic Development Committee (SDC) decided to defer a decision to approve the Phoenix Wharf development after objections by residents.
One can assume that the Scottish chappies were:
1. A trifle miffed at the outcome of the SDC.
2. Suddenly aware, as once did Adolf Hitler’s Luftwaffe, that you mess with the East End at your peril.
3. Realising that they were absolutely ‘fooked’.
How did the Wapping Mole come to overhear this rich exchange of emotion in the mens loos at the Town Hall we hear you ask?
Answer – Moley has spies everywhere. Ask… er.. you know… whatsisname.
Cllr. Francis (pictured left) impressed residents with his concern regarding their representations and knowledge of the issue.
Will this democracy and open government thing never end?
Whatisname must be turning in his grave. Well, someone else’s grave that he probably nicked.
Anyway…. Why not have some facts?
Not from the developers, or Tower Hamlets planners, but residents!
First a map…
Statement by residents from Silver Wharf and Aqua Vista complexes to Tower Hamlets SDC
Silver Wharf (left) and to the right Aqua Vista. Red area is the proposed site for a 14 storey high density development, the site is called Phoenix Wharf.
Silver Wharf and Aqua Vista total 285 apartments.
We have an active residents association and work closely with our neighbours much of this is ironically down the fact that a shisha bar was built on the Phoenix works site without planning permission and allowed to operate from 4pm until 3am seven days a week.
Local residents spent nearly two years seeking action from the police and tower hamlets and thankfully action was taken late last year resulting in the closure and removal of the shisha bar. Local residents were forced to make representation at Thames Magistrates when the owner of the shisha bar contested a closure notice issued by LBTH.
1. The developers alleged to have carried out a compressive community engagement scheme with respect to their planning application. In documents submitted to support the development they state that residents of these two complexes received hand-deliver letters.
2. Residents were unaware of this proposed development, to date we have not found one single resident who received any contact whatsoever as is stated by the developers. We have had over 140 (50%) of apartments respond and confirm this. We have a very strong and active Residents Association (RA) at Silver Wharf and it is inconceivable that this matter would not be raised if such communications had taken place.
3. The developers held and open day at the end of December 2014 in Westfield, a total of 8 people attended, their address details were included in the submission, none of them were from these two complexes. Any reasonable person would expect at least some level of engagement from properties which in some cases would be severely impacted by this proposed development. We believe this was a deliberate attempt to exclude residents who would most likely raise strong objections to the proposed development.
5. The first that any resident in this two complexes knew of the proposed development was in March 2015 when thin, non-descript envelopes devoid of any identifying marks were delivered to residents from LBTH Planning stating that the consultation process was now open. Many residents simply threw the envelopes in the waste bin as they were indistinguishable from normal junk mail.
6. When the RA became aware of the development there were little than two weeks left to submit objections, a mammoth task ensued as residents from both complexes formed a committee and worked to draft an objection of substance and get residents to submit in sufficient numbers such that the proposal would go to committee. Thankfully we just managed in the nick of time however, this was only due to the presence of a strong residents association and its network of members.
Objection 1: In breach of planning law?
It is our belief that this planning application could be in breach of planning law. Please see attached pdf ‘the local plan’. It is clear the development is contra to the state principals of the Local Development Plan which, calls for low rise, low density developments in and around Bartlett Park and for high rise, high density to be situated around Chrisp Street Market.
At a presentation by Tower Hamlets of the Local Development Plan at St Pauls Way School, hosted by Poplar Harca in 2014 it was also stated that another caveat existed which required developments around the perimeter of Bartlett Park to be no higher than 8 storeys.
Objection 2: Dishonesty and Deception
It is evidently clear that the developers and their agents submitted false documents in relation to the community engagement aspect. There is no evidence they hand delivered letters to residents in Silver Wharf and Aqua Vista, indeed we can not find a single person who has received any communication in this respect.
We believe this was a deliberate attempt to exclude residents who would most likely raise objections to this development and further more to deceive Tower Hamlets Strategic Development Committee.
Statement by Catherine O’Mahony, Aqua Vista resident.
“I live in the Aqua Vista development, which is 25 metres north of the high rise development proposed by Fairview Homes. I am totally against this going ahead as it would have a negative impact on me and hundreds of my neighbours.
I did a lot of research on the plans and implications, then communicated this in clearer terms to other Aqua Vista residents (unfortunately, it was not made very clear by Tower Hamlets planning department).
Some of my neighbours have talked about selling and moving elsewhere if this goes ahead, even though they are currently happy here. Through my efforts, I met Andy Ager from Silver Wharf residents association, and we’ve been trying to stop the development going ahead.
Fairview Homes deliberately excluded affected residents living north of the site from what they called an ‘extensive consultation process’, even though we are the ones who would be most impacted.
Many of us would lose more than 30% of our daylight (over 50% in some cases) and our privacy would also be affected. Local views of Canary Wharf would be obscured, which would affect resident enjoyment and the character of this neighbourhood. The proposal goes against Tower Hamlets’ Local Plan, which legally, should form the basis of planning decisions.
The Local Plan specifically states that development by the Limehouse Cut and Bartlett Park should be low rise (higher rise development is supposed to be nearer town centres). The planning department’s main defense seems to be that it’s fine to build a high rise development as there are already some in the area! This a weak and flawed argument that is a surefire route to over-development.
I would welcome low rise residential properties be built on the site instead. This would provide new homes and make the area more attractive, whilst taking all neighbours into account and complying with the Local Plan.
I’m glad that after Andy and I spoke at the SDC meeting on Thursday, the committee have delayed making a decision. I welcome the fact they are going to visit the site. I hope they actually visit some of our properties too to get a full picture. They are certainly welcome into my flat.
I hope the committee makes the right decision here and show that Tower Hamlets really are working to restore transparency and trust amongst amongst residents. I hope they make a stand against property developers conducting themselves how Fairview Homes have.”
LW would like to offer an apology to Andy Ager, Catherine O’Mahony and the other residents for not being able to investigate and publicise this issue before the SDC meeting, but various mole issues (like earning some money if not a living) got in the way. It is of intense frustration to the entire LW Investigations Department, especially the Poplar branch, that they cannot do their investigating thing due to the state of hyperlocal media in the UK at the moment. Sorry.
The really good thing is that Andy and Catherine have shown that it is possible to take on vested interests and win. They should be applauded for this.
The Silver Wharf and Aqua Vista residents follow in the footsteps of Andy Erlam and the election petitioners and fought for what is right.
In the interests of fair play LW should have given Fairview Homes the right to reply but we couldn’t be arsed.
And anyway we wouldn’t want more swearing in the loos, would we?
The only people to come out of this with any credit are the residents and the Tower Hamlets councillors.
Not Tower Hamlets council officers. Big difference between councillors and officers – councillors want to get stuff done, too many council officers seem to think they own the borough.
Guess what? You don’t!
So best you do your jobs on behalf of the residents of Tower Hamlets.
LW has heard many reports from Mulberry Place that time and time again the advance of our borough is being held back by council officers.
Some advice for property developers
And finally we would like to offer this piece of advice to the four cheap suits and their colleagues who want to line their pockets with no regard to our community.
You are absolutely fooked!
Translation of ‘Tatties o’wer the side’ – Everything has gone wrong