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Sainsbury’s Whitechapel luxury tower scheme rejected by Tower Hamlets Council for 3rd time

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:21 18 February 2018

Cllr Marc Francis... Refusing Sainsbury's Whitechapel scheme which

Cllr Marc Francis... Refusing Sainsbury's Whitechapel scheme which "has taken out a huge proportion of affordable housing". Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Developers are squaring up for a battle with Tower Hamlets Council over Sainsbury’s controversial Whitechapel redevelopment scheme.

Original Sainsbury's luxury tower proposal withdrawn in 2017 that would have overlooked Grade I-listed 1695 Wren almshouses. Picture: Mike BrookeOriginal Sainsbury's luxury tower proposal withdrawn in 2017 that would have overlooked Grade I-listed 1695 Wren almshouses. Picture: Mike Brooke

A plan for tearing down the present supermarket with its multi-storey car-park and replacing it with a new store and luxury housing complex has been thrown out by the council’s strategic planning committee for a third time.

Sainsbury’s had reduced the proposed 28-storey tower facing Cambridge Heath Road that was previously rejected in 2016 and last year which would have overshadowed a row of Grade I-listed 1695 Trinity Green almshouses designed by Wren.

The tower would now be nine-storeys—but council members were furious that the reduction would be made by cutting the ratio of ‘affordable’ properties in the complex of 470 flats.

“This is an even worse proposal than last time,” committee chairman Marc Francis told the town hall’s strategic planning meeting.

“It’s frustrating because they have significantly reduced the height of the main tower which would overlook the almshouses, but have taken out a huge proportion of affordable housing.”

The modified scheme resubmitted in December has eight blocks, the tallest at 14 storeys—but even that would dwarf the historic listed Charrington’s old brewery clock tower seen from Whitechapel Road.

Council officers recommended rejecting the scheme that would also have had an impact on the Collingwood estate close by, reducing its daylight.

Cllr Francis warned that the council would stand firm when Sainsbury’s appeals directly to the Secretary of State to overturn the council’s refusal.

“We will defend this decision robustly,” he promised. “The scheme will have an adverse impact on the Collingwood estate which is the reason for refusal.

“But I hope Sainsbury’s comes back with something more sensible.”

The proposed complex behind Whitechapel Road, stretching from Cambridge Heath Road to Brady Street, would be a major part of the Whitechapel rejuvenation masterplan which includes a new civic centre on the former London Hospital site and Crossrail’s Elizabeth line opening later this year.

Sainsbury’s withdrew its original 28-storey tower last summer after council planning refusals and an 18-month campaign by Trinity Green residents supported by TV historian and conservation champion Dan Cruikshank.

But the watered-down scheme still didn’t cut it with the town hall on Thursday. Now it goes to the Secretary of State for a public hearing in October.

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