790ft Hertsmere House approved at Canary Wharf where Columbia Tower failed

PUBLISHED: 10:19 29 February 2016 | UPDATED: 08:24 01 March 2016

Hertsmere House... the new building on the block

Hertsmere House... the new building on the block

architects HOK

Western Europe’s tallest residential tower has got the green light at Canary Wharf in east London after getting planning permission from Tower Hamlets council.

New kid on the block... Hertsmere House next to Museum of London Docklands housed in traditional 19th century converted dock warehouseNew kid on the block... Hertsmere House next to Museum of London Docklands housed in traditional 19th century converted dock warehouse

The 67-storey Hertsmere House, which will tower above Canary Wharf’s iconic One Canada Square close by, has had a rough passage through the planning process after first being thrown out in 2009 as an office block.

Now the Greenland Group, backed by Chinese investors, has got the go-ahead for 860 apartments—comprising 765 luxury and 96 intermediate-priced flats—which replaces the failed Columbia Tower commercial scheme that was dropped when the recession hit.

The green light was given despite criticism from the Isle of Dogs planning forum which feared a “population overload” in the close-knit Docklands neighbourhood with services unable to cope.

The forum was concerned at “meltdown” of local services like roads—with only two linking the Thames peninsular to the rest of east London—public transport, schools, surgeries, water supply and even sewers. It called for infrastructure expansion before any more planning approvals like Hertsmere House.

Entrance to Hertsmere HouseEntrance to Hertsmere House

But the Shanghai-based Greenland Group got approval for the 790ft structure, with a separate linked development for 60 low-cost homes at Dalgleish Road in Limehouse, which includes 40 ring-fenced ‘social rent’ family homes.

“This residential building is a landmark and our most important project in Europe,” Greenland’s Setareh Neshati said. “Our scheme will revitalise this part of Docklands.”

The steel and glass ‘petal-shaped’ tower at West India Quay is promoted as “reflecting the heritage of the area”—although there is nothing about it that reflects the traditional 19th century waterfront architecture like the Museum of London Docklands next to it, apart from the reflections of its glass wrap-around.

The site bought by Greenland in 2014 from Commercial Estates Group had a permit in 2005 to demolish the old Hertsmere House council dwellings and replace it with the 63-storey Columbus Tower office block. But the oncoming recession, five years later, diverted priorities away from offices to housing instead and the scheme was abandoned after the council turned it down.

Greenland aims to start building on both the West India Quay and the Limehouse sites later this year and complete the developments by 2020.

The Hertsmere complex has pavilions connected to the tower by glass-covered winter gardens, landscaped roof terraces, public open spaces and children’s play areas.

A further £19m contribution to Tower Hamlets has been ring-fenced for low-cost housing, while Greenland is also paying another £21m ‘community infrastructure’ levy and other planning contributions.

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