What price the Phoenix Wharf development in Wapping? Two years of gridlock OK?

Long long ago and far far away (well, June 2013) there was a planning Application for King Henry’s Wharf and Phoenix Wharf just by the Captain Kidd pub. This application has now sprung to life again. Of all the narrow roads in Wapping this particular bit of cobbled history outside Phoenix Wharf is probably the narrowest. With the most traffic.

Completely absolutely and certifiably insane

When the planning application was originally published a look at the Construction Management Plan (CMP) showed that, to quote ourselves “The worst bit, and frankly completely absolutely and certifiably insane bit, is the way that the developers intend to chop Wapping in half for two years. Wapping High Street from the junction with Wapping Lane to past Brewhouse Lane will be full of lorries.”

The ever vigilant Cllr. Julia Dockerill (Conservative) has written this post on her site which explains in gory detail that after four years of thought and deliberation the developers have come up with a CMP which is, er, the same.

You can see the planning application details here and the amended CMP here. All Wapping residents now have until 23 March 2017 to respond to this plan in the usual way. You can also contribute to the planning consultation, please email dr.developmentcontrol@towerhamlets.gov.uk by 23 March, quoting ref PA/17/00453

Which is a really important thing for you to do because if the CMP in it’s current form goes ahead Wapping is going to suffer traffic chaos of biblical proportions for two years. (OK, they didn’t have a 100 bus in biblical times but you get the drift. It’s lunacy).

Cllr. Dockerill suggests the points below might be the sort of thing you may want to mention when you make your views known to the Tower Hamlets Planning Department. 

  • The revised CMP is still lacking in specifics and is therefore not fit for purpose in assessing everyday impact of construction works on this key Wapping route. It should not be approved by planners without more detail.
  • Proposed working hours affect both morning and evening rush hour.
  • A Temporary Traffic Management Order is proposed with traffic diverted. However one of the detour roads, Reardon Path, is currently blocked and the roads are extremely narrow and inappropriate for large volumes of traffic at busy rush hour times.
  • A 40m crane will be housed on the land-side site for two years with all deliveries to that site made at an entrance only a few metres from Bridewell Place. This could have big implications for residents being able to leave their homes and get their bins collected as the CMP map fails to show the Bridewell Place car exit point. It could also prove extremely noisy when the piles are driven to anchor the crane. How will residents be compensated for this disruption and what assurances will they be given about recompense should damage occur to the structure of their homes?
  • When land side development begins, all materials and waste will be moved to a site accessible only via the extremely narrow Brewhouse Lane. This could again have seriously implications for accessibility to Bridewell Place.
  • The CMP inadequately addresses disruption on this key Wapping thoroughfare and fails to make better use of the river to dispose of waste materials.
  • It is proposed that a working group will be formed only after construction begins. This should actually happen before works begin so that residents’ concerns can be taken into account and transport disruption can also be dealt with more sensibly and at restricted hours.
  • The pathways around the site are already extremely difficult for residents to navigate and could get very dangerous should construction works be added to the mix.
  • Provisions for people with impaired mobility need to be much more robust.
  • As Phoenix Wharf received a direct hit during the Blitz, we require assurances that the site has been fully monitored and a plan is in place should any evacuation need to take place.
  • Residents have been given only two weeks to reply to this third iteration of the CMP. Why so short a time for what could be very significant disruption? Why has the developer again failed to provide proper details of traffic management?

LW would also add the impediment to emergency vehicles this will cause (especially the Marine Unit) and considerations for the scenario when The Highway is blocked due to an accident and all traffic is diverted through Wapping.

The problem

Here’s a schematic we published at the time of the original application and CMP.



 As the LW editorial team is nowhere near as polite as Cllr. Dockerill we can sum up the above in a more succinct and, well, pithy fashion.
This all sucks. While we need need new life breathed into our glorious heritage buildings such as Phoenix Wharf this cannot be at the expense of the people who live and work here. It’s just wrong.

A possible solution – barges

The developers should be told to get their act together and come up with a radically improved plan. LW suggested at the time that the river should be used to bring all materials in by barge (see below). Phoenix Wharf? The clue is in the name.
Unless this CMP is revised then we need to join together as a community to stop this development – by direct action if need be – and draw a line in the sand for this and all future developers.
Appropriate development yes. Taking the mickey – no way.
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