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Second Tower Hamlets ‘people victory’ as Asda scraps Isle of Dogs development

PUBLISHED: 19:13 07 August 2017 | UPDATED: 16:58 08 August 2017

What might have been... Asda's skyscraper 'farm' overshadowing Mudchute Farm on the Isle of Dogs. Picture: Ashbourne Beech

What might have been... Asda's skyscraper 'farm' overshadowing Mudchute Farm on the Isle of Dogs. Picture: Ashbourne Beech

Ashbourne Beech

The controversial skyscraper plans to redevelop the huge Asda supermarket site on the Isle of Dogs have been withdrawn.

How Asda skyscraper proposal would look like form Crossharbour DLR station. Picture: Ashbourne BeechHow Asda skyscraper proposal would look like form Crossharbour DLR station. Picture: Ashbourne Beech

The battle is the second “victory for the people” of London’s East End within three months after rival food chain Sainsbury’s withdrew their skyscraper plans for Whitechapel.

Asda’s proposed ‘Crossharbour district shopping centre’ brought fierce opposition when it was first mooted in 2011 which was given Tower Hamlets planning consent in November, 2014 for shops, cafés, offices and 850 new homes.

But Ashbourne Beech developers then came up with an even more ambitious scheme for double the number of homes and began public consultations and a public exhibition last year at Café Forever in Glengall Grove.

That led to a wave of objectors fearing the “wall of skyscrapers” would overshadow Mudchute Farm, Millwall Park and hundreds of homes at Cubitt Town. Among objections was the Asda petrol station closing without being replaced — leaving no fill-up for car-owners anywhere on ‘the island’.

Arial view of huge Asda site overlooking Millwall Park open space at the Isle of Dogs. Picture: Ashbourne BeechArial view of huge Asda site overlooking Millwall Park open space at the Isle of Dogs. Picture: Ashbourne Beech

“It’s down to ‘people’ power through sheer weight of objections,” a delighted councillor Peter Golds told the East London Advertiser.

“We fought this for years and have managed to engage the community—so the developers can’t claim they’re representing anybody with this crass example of over-development.

“The 2,000 new homes in towers rising to 33 stories would have dominated Crossharbour and Mudchute Park.”

Cllr Golds, who represents a large swathe of the Isle of Dogs, is calling for planners to recognise that the petrol station “is an essential local service” that should remain.

Development team leaders Richard Frank (left) and Geoff Brocklehurst when Asda scheme went public in 2012. Picture: Mike BrookeDevelopment team leaders Richard Frank (left) and Geoff Brocklehurst when Asda scheme went public in 2012. Picture: Mike Brooke

“The Island cannot sustain massive development without services,” he added. “The original 850 new homes was regarded as ‘over-development’—so what on earth is 2,000 new homes?”

Asda pulled out on Friday, to the relief of Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs who had formally objected a few weeks ago.

He said: “The developers have finally listened to the public’s views after years of campaigning and abandoned their oversized plans. These towers were far too high and clearly didn’t meet local needs.”

It is the second major development to hit the buffers, nine weeks after Sainsbury’s withdrew its 28-storey tower proposed at Whitechapel, seen as a “people’s victory” by tenants of the Grade I-listed 1695 Trinity Green almshouses 200ft away which would have been overshadowed. Sainsbury’s agreed to reduce the height to eight storeys and intends to resubmit its application.

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