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Car parks turned into council flats for families in Tower Hamlets housing queue

PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 October 2020

New housing now ready in Stepney on what was once an estate car park at Rhodeswell Road. Picture: LBTH

New housing now ready in Stepney on what was once an estate car park at Rhodeswell Road. Picture: LBTH

LBTH

Work has been completed on 53 new homes built on council housing estate car parks in Stepney and Bethnal Green.

Little-used council estate car park in Baroness Road, near Bethnal Green's Columbia Road Market, Picture: GoogleLittle-used council estate car park in Baroness Road, near Bethnal Green's Columbia Road Market, Picture: Google

It is part of Tower Hamlets Council’s strategy to use up car parking spaces for housing — despite the risk of problems with emergency access.

The council’s planning committee only last week passed a scheme in Limehouse for 32 flats on the Brunton Wharf Estate car park even knowing it might jeopardise emergency vehicle access to an 18-storey tower block with its back to the Regent’s Canal.

The move went ahead before the London Fire Brigade could assess the risks to the towering Caledonia House and brought condemnation from City Hall.

The masked mayor... John Biggs in the middle keeps his social distance visiting the new Orwell House in Bethnal Green. Picture: LBTHThe masked mayor... John Biggs in the middle keeps his social distance visiting the new Orwell House in Bethnal Green. Picture: LBTH

But the two new schemes in Stepney and Bethnal Green, ready for families before the end the year, haven’t hit access problems—so far.

They are on what the council says were “underused car parks”, one in Rhodeswell Road by the same canal and the other in Baroness Road near Columbia Road Market.

“We are getting towards our target of 2,000 new council homes,” mayor John Biggs assured.

More relaxed this time... Mayor Biggs without face mask visiting Pyrus House in Stepney. Picture: LBTHMore relaxed this time... Mayor Biggs without face mask visiting Pyrus House in Stepney. Picture: LBTH

“The housing market is leaving many people behind and the economy facing an unprecedented blow from Covid-19 makes it more important to redouble our efforts to tackle the housing crisis.”

The masked mayor was touring both schemes, keeping his “social distance”.

The new Pyrus House in Rhodeswell Road has 14 homes with three bedrooms, nine with two and has seven one-bed flats, with three properties suitable for disabled tenants.

Where once car-owners could park... now being turned into housing in Stepney for 33 families on the waiting list. Picture: GoogleWhere once car-owners could park... now being turned into housing in Stepney for 33 families on the waiting list. Picture: Google

The new Orwell House in Baroness Road, named after the second mayor of Tower Hamlets John Orwell who served in 1966, has six homes with three bedrooms, seven with two and includes five one-bed flats. Two homes are suitable for disabled.

Deputy Mayor Sirajul Islam promised: “Each development is going to families on our housing register already living on these estates, because of the steps we took to introduce a ‘local lettings’ policy.”

They follow completion of Levitas House in Stepney in August, named after radical former councillor Max Levitas who died last year aged 103.

Planning permission was also given last week for another 42 council homes at Southern Grove in Mile End, part of a larger development at St Clement’s former mental hospital and Victorian workhouse in the Mile End Road.


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