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Skyscraper developers halted by Isle of Dogs Forum’s new legal Neighbourhood Plan

PUBLISHED: 12:33 31 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:57 01 November 2017

Isle of Dogs mass development pressure on public services. Picture: IoD Forum

Isle of Dogs mass development pressure on public services. Picture: IoD Forum

IoD Forum

The brakes are being put on massive developments on the Isle of Dogs with new legal measures to stop scheme going ahead without improving public services.

Isle of Dogs population set to hit 100,000 in next 10 years, dwarfting all neighbouring areas. Picture: IoD Forum Isle of Dogs population set to hit 100,000 in next 10 years, dwarfting all neighbouring areas. Picture: IoD Forum

East London’s congested riverside quarter next to Canary Wharf is fast becoming one of Europe’s most densely-packed urban population areas.

Now a long-awaited Neighbourhood Plan has been sent to Tower Hamlets Council by the new Isle of Dogs Planning Forum for a public referendum next summer.

The referendum means a legal requirement before the town hall could give the green light for new schemes to guarantee improvements to utilities such as gas, electricity and water mains, sewers and services like schools, medical and transport.

Public services are near to collapse on the Isle of Dogs with the population explosion almost trebling over the next 10 years in Canary Wharf, Millwall and Cubitt Town, from 40,000 to 100,000 by 2027, last night’s packed Planning Forum meeting was told.

Forum chairman Richard Horwood... putting breaks on schemes without public service improvements. Picture: Mike Brooke Forum chairman Richard Horwood... putting breaks on schemes without public service improvements. Picture: Mike Brooke

The 4,000 population of Marsh Wall alone is set to rise to 40,000 with all the planning applications already given the green light—and more in the pipeline.

“Extremely dense development has been going on without infrastructure being improved,” Isle of Dogs forum chairman Richard Horwood told the East London Advertiser.

“Local elections next May will slow things down. But our new Neighbourhood Plan going to a public vote by the summer will have the same weight as the council’s official Tower Hamlets plan.

“Developers can’t just shrug their shoulders any more.”

"Developers can’t just shrug their shoulders any more"

Richard Horwood, Isle of Dogs Forum chairman

An extra policy requirement means services would have to be guaranteed before schemes are approved.

The forum invited the-then Treasury Secretary David Gauke on a walkabout tour in February to see the impact of planning schemes for massive skyscrapers.

The government had “no idea” that developers were cramming so much into area hemmed in by Canary Wharf and the loop in the Thames, with just two roads, one foot tunnel under the Thames and an overcrowded DLR connected to the rest of London.

But the battle for the Isle of Dogs has already claimed its first victory even before the Local Plan gets legal teeth next year.

Building continues at Marsh Wall with pressure on utilities. Picture: IoD Forum Building continues at Marsh Wall with pressure on utilities. Picture: IoD Forum

The controversial Asda supermarket redevelopment for 2,000 homes was withdrawn earlier this year, faced with overwhelming objections about the “wall of skyscrapers” casting shadow over Millwall Park and surrounding streets and putting pressure on public services. It actually got planning consent for 850 homes in 2014, only for Ashbourne Beech developers to come back with a more ambitious scheme to double the capacity with 33-storey towers.

Now the new Neighbourhood Plan aims to stop developments “overwhelming” neighbourhoods without improving public services.

The Isle of Dogs wasn’t against development, the forum stressed, but better infrastructure had to be guaranteed. Next year’s referendum would make it legally binding.

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