Community news and investigative journalism for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets London

Mechanical digger already at work on King Henry’s & Phoenix Wharves site

By on April 11, 2017 in King Henry's Wharves

Two dozen residents attending a meeting to discuss the controversial Construction Management Plan (CMP) for the redevelopment of the King Henry’s Wharf/Phoenix Wharf site last Thursday morning (6th April) only for a mechanical digger to arrive on site today (11th April) and start digging a large hole.

Mechanical digger and the first excavation it made this morning on the waste ground opposite Phoenix Wharf.

Mechanical digger and the first excavation it made this morning on the waste ground opposite Phoenix Wharf.

Wapping councillor Denise Jones (Labour), Tower Hamlets Cabinet Member for Strategic Development Rachel Blake, and planning officers Tim and Kamlesh attended the site visit, showing more engagement with local concerns than the elusive developers.

A glorious Wapping bollard (left) and Councillors Denise Jones and Rachel Blake.

Residents spent an hour showing the case officers around the site and explaining the many problems raised by the current proposals, including:

  • Traffic chaos at the narrowest bottleneck on Wapping High Street, and from diverted traffic in Green Bank and Reardon Path.
  • Dangers to pedestrians caused by the suggested removal of pavements around the site.
  • Blockage of vehicle access to and from Bridewell Place (the developer’s hurriedly revised latest plans, kindly shown by Tim, appear to have missed out the main gateway to the development on the opposite corner).
  • Risks of damage to surrounding properties caused by everything from pile driving and a large on-site crane to planned deliveries along the infamously narrow Brewhouse Lane.
  • Questions of whether planning consent is needed for a scheme to raze the wildlife-friendly empty plot to the rear of the development for use as a storage and facilities area during the construction period.

Current CMP doesn’t come even close

Both councillors and case officers listened with interest and concern to these and many other issues, and all seemed to agree that the current vague suggestions of the CMP don’t come anything close to addressing the problems.

Spare buckets for the mechanical digger (circled)

Spare buckets for the mechanical digger (circled)

With time running short before the 2nd May expiry of the original planning permission, planning officers Kamlesh and Tim told us they had imminent meetings lined up with both the Highways Department and the developers, after which we can anticipate another round of consultation on a revised CMP.

We can only hope they take our concerns on board, but everyone needs to be ready to make their views known if necessary.

With portaloo in place are the people working here preparing for a long stay?

With portaloo in place are the people working here preparing for a long stay?

Update 14.00 11th April 2017

Last year, the developers successfully applied for an amendment to their original application, allowing some basic ground-level work to count as commencement of the project and therefore extend their permission beyond 2nd May.

We were informed in the meeting that such work could only start once the obligations of the permission (such as an approved CMP) were fulfilled.

A brand new hole.

A brand new hole which was not there yesterday.

So residents were more than a little alarmed this morning to find the digger at work on the site. What exactly is going on? We await an update from the Planning Department.

Many thanks to Giles Sparrow for volunteering to write up this excellent report for LW, thanks to Beatrice Danesfield for her photograph and of course to Denise, Rachel, Kamlesh and Tim for taking the time to come and see the problem for themselves. 

 

 

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