Tower Hamlets Council loses High Court appeal over Victorian cottages demolition

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 September 2019

The Victorian cottages in East Ferry Road. Picture: LBTH

The Victorian cottages in East Ferry Road. Picture: LBTH


A High Court judge has expressed “discomfort” about the demolition of three Victorian workers’ cottages on the Isle of Dogs - but has dismissed a council appeal.

Rubble left after the homes in East Ferry Road were demolished. Pictures: LBTHRubble left after the homes in East Ferry Road were demolished. Pictures: LBTH

Bosses at Tower Hamlets Council took steps three years ago after receiving a complaint that numbers 2, 4 and 6 in East Ferry Road had been demolished without planning permission.

Experts believe the homes were the last remaining dwellings from the Victorian workers' district of Cubitt Town.

They said the cottages, built in the mid-1800s, had to be recreated "in facsimile" and issued enforcement notices.

But a planning inspector allowed appeals against the enforcement notices and Tower Hamlets Council has failed to overturn the inspector's decision after a High Court challenge.

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Mr Justice Kerr, who analysed arguments at a High Court hearing in London in July, dismissed the council's challenge after concluding that the inspector's decision was lawful.

He said in a written judgment, published this week, that he had ruled against the council "without much enthusiasm".

The judge said the cottages and their "contribution to our historic environment" had been lost, but added that his "discomfort" did not make the inspector's decision unlawful.

He said the inspector had "effectively reasoned" that demolition had "done more good than harm" as it would lead to "suitable development" of the site.

Officials at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, who oversee planning, and a firm called Angelic Interiors, which owned the site but is now in administration, had opposed the council's challenge.

The judge said the council had not prosecuted anyone in relation to the demolition. He added that a man named Magus Davey had admitted responsibility but said he did not realise the council would be unhappy.

Tower Hamlets Council has been contacted for comment.

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