Wapping Lido planning application submitted – your views count

Formal planning permission for a lido in Shadwell Basin – aka the Wapping Lido – has been submitted by the Turks Head Company (not the cafe, the charity in the offices above it).

LW has previously reported on this here Turks Head Company plans for Wapping Lido and here Another Wapping Lido consultation?.

You can find the planning application, PA 16/01978, by going to the Tower Hamlets Council site here and then entering the reference number 16/01978.

Town Hall & Peace Gardens By Chemical Engineer – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7505802

The planning proposal for the Wapping Lido is:

  • Development of 50 x 8.5m natural swimming pool and kid’s pool incorporating a surfaced beach area and sun terrace, changing rooms, toilet, disabled facilities and kiosk (Use Class D2, A1-A3).
  • A café Restaurant incorporating 1st floor viewing platform and integrated public toilet block and ground floor level (Use Class A3)
  • Ecological improvements to Shadwell Basin including new wet land park with improved fishing pitches
  • A new foot bridge and decked area (Science Deck)
  • A new canoe polo court Shadwell Basin

(And just to confuse you completely the Council also has its own consultation plan about a lido at Shadwell Basin. But more on that another time.)

Concerned of E1W writes

Several residents have emailed LW about the Wapping Lido plan, this one is representative of the general tone:

“I think the Lido could be excellent for local area, it would potentially be a very positive use of public space, that can be a magnet for young bored people to hang out and drink / create a mess. I am also very concerned about the number of people who now seem to think the basin is a safe place to swim (notwithstanding the recent death). I know it is easy to criticise projects and less easy to try and do something positive but my reservation are:-

  • Is the business plan sustainable?
  • What about transport/parking/litter?
  • Will the lido stop people swimming in the remainder of the basin? Probably not & in good weather it may even simply encourage it so I think the Lido would have to enforce no swimming elsewhere. 
  • What about noise? We were told an acoustic study would be done, then the commitment seemed not to appear in the notes of consultation.
  • Will the restaurant and viewing deck be used for events? Again this will create a noise problem for the houses around he Basin, noise carries well across water. I am writing this from my balcony and the chatter of the 40 or so people hanging out on Brussels wharf and swimming is clearly audible, if music were added it would be unpleasant.
  • Will it impact the sustainability of St George’s Pools?
  • What about the wildlife – we have resident coots, mallards, Aylesbury duck, moor hens, we have visiting Canada geese, swans, terms and Mediterranean gulls (and no doubt more I don’t recognise), cormorants, the kingfishers which live at the end of the canal.
  • What about the fishermen who do and have regularly used the Basin in the time I have lived here?

For me there are questions to be addressed but I am broadly positive about the initiative.

My biggest concern I have is that when I have tried to engage with John Aldenton on two occasions he does not engage on potential issues, he isn’t interested, he brushes everything off glibly and dismissively  – at least he has the twice I have met him.

I found the architect engaging and prepared to discuss so that gives me some hope.

John on the other hand used the fact that one person in Newlands Quay had expressed an interest in being on the project board as sufficient for the rest of us to have no business commenting. He also stated very glibly that “everyone” on the other side of the basin and near the Prospect of Whitby had agreed and had no objections or concerns.

Given the chaotic manner in which the supposed consultations where publicised and took place I would be surprised if everyone attended. 

Yours, concerned E1W”

A recurring theme in the emails about the Lido is the attitude of those representing the Turks Head Company towards residents who have asked questions as reflected in the email above.

The Turks Head Company staff might try and treat the residents they are consulting with respect and engage with them as equals. To do otherwise is not the best attitude of an organisation that wishes to take over a large part of Shadwell and some would argue is by itself a reason for the Council to reject the planning application.

For our own part LW will be objecting has objected to this application for the following reasons:

  • The Wapping Lido will further erode even more of our docklands heritage by altering part of Shadwell Basin
  • The application will do nothing to reduce the number of people swimming in Shadwell Basin itself, in fact it will encourage it. One person recently drowned there.
  • At a time when King Edward Memorial Park is being destroyed – sorry, altered – to further line the pockets of Thames Water and Macquarie Group shareholders pockets we do not need further disruption of our precious outdoor areas
  • Wildlife in the basin will be seriously disrupted if not permanently obliterated. Most of the natural nesting areas are in the exact same spot where the Wapping Lido is planned – Brussels Wharf
  • The Shadwell Basin Anglers Group have been doing a terrific job improving the environment on the south side of Shadwell Basin and much if not all of their work would be destroyed
  • Based on its previous financial history (see below)LW does not believe that the Turks Head Company is fit to develop, manage or run the Wapping Lido
  • Based on the manner in which Turks Head Company staff have engaged with residents LW does not believe that the Turks Head Company is fit to develop, manage or run the Wapping Lido
  • Wapping desperately needs a single community centre for all community groups and that the time, money and effort involved in the Wapping Lido scheme would be better directed towards this goal (including the Council’s consultation.
  • The idea of an outdoor swimming pool in England where it is cold outside even in the summer is just plain stupid

But hey, what do we know? Make your own mind up.

St. Pauls Place Sheffield with St. Pauls Tower centre , the tallest building in the city. Photo by St BC at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16135019

How much? To where? On what!?

Sheffield Photo by Neil Theasby.
Sheffield: Photo by Neil Theasby – http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2116703, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36054360

Some residents have asked us to explain the background to the Turks Head Company being investigated by the Charity Commission a few years back.

This story was first addressed by the original (and in our opinion the best) Wapping hyperlocal site What’s in Wapping which is taking a break for the moment and drinking lots of tea.

So with many thanks to What’s in Wapping here is the back story which LW considers is directly relevant to the current planning application for Wapping Lido reference PA 16/01978.

Oh and the reason for all the photos of lovely Sheffield.

How the Turks Head Company lost £147,000 in Sheffield

Long, long ago and far, far away very nearby the Turks Head Company was subject to an investigation by the Charity Commission.

The Charity Commission investigation (you can find the original write up here on What’s in Wapping) was started because in 2007 the Turks Head Company loaned the Tower Hamlets Environment Trust  (THET) £131,000 which in turn loaned the £131,000 to an organisation called ‘Green Homes in Sheffield’ who, as the name would suggest, were in the business of building green homes in Sheffield.

To clarify that’s Sheffield in South Yorkshire. Not Sheffield in Tower Hamlets ‘cos there ain’t no such place.

In 2008 the housing market went down the pan, Green Homes in Sheffield went bust and  THET defaulted on the original loan with a total bad debt to the Turks Head Company of £147,000.

John Aldenton took no part in the loan decision apparently as he says in this quote in the comments section of the original What’s in Wapping post (at bottom of page):

“When in 2007, the trustees of the Turk’s Head decided to lend their spare cash to the Environment Trust, it was to get a fairer rate of return than offered by a bank. I took no part in the decision, and the trustees were advised by an independent advisor, as the charity’s records show.”

Two things come to mind when reading that paragraph.

  1. £131,000 spare cash? Charity? Why wasn’t the spare cash spent on charitable work in Wapping? How is it possible for a tiny little charity like the Turks Head Company have £131,000 which is does not know what to do with?
  2. Anyone with any familiarity with the Turks Head Company or John Aldenton will consider his claim that he ‘took no part in the decision’ to lend that amount of money to some green scheme in Sheffield to be laughable.

As previously brought to our attention by a keen LW reader some time ago it should also be noted that at the time Maureen Davis was both a director of Tower Hamlets Environment Trust (1 April 1997 – 1 November 2003) and the Turks Head Company (28 July 1992 – 18 February 2009).

Happiness at Work

Another point raised in the Charity Commission’s investigation report into the Turks Head Company was this:

“5. Happiness at Work Ltd

The Commission recommends the trustees seek professional advice about a potential conflict of interest arising from one of the trustees interest in Happiness at Work Ltd.

Trustees have been asked to consider the appropriateness of the Turks Head acquiring Happiness at Work as a wholly owned trading subsidiary and its intention to covenant profits to the Turks Head.”

Happiness at Work is located in the Turks Head Company offices. In addition to John Aldenton one of it’s directors is Samuel Aldenton, presumably John Aldenton’s son.

Sam is doing well in his own right as his company, Second Home, raised £7.500,000 funding this year for his funky startup space / creative accelerator venture in an old carpet factory just off Brick Lane.

For further information

By Paolo Margari X-novo - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5673101
Panorama of a brutalist housing estate More details Park Hill flats, an example of 1950/60s council housing estates in Sheffield. Photo by Paolo Margari X-novo – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5673101