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Isle of Dogs hit by 'mortgage desert' caused by new 'Grenfell Tower' fire safety legislation

PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:29 11 December 2019

High desity tower blocks cheek-by-jowl blocking daylight in large swathe of Isle of Dogs. Picture: Mike Brooke

High desity tower blocks cheek-by-jowl blocking daylight in large swathe of Isle of Dogs. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

New plans to prevent public services facing collapse on the Isle of Dogs by a population explosion have been drawn up by its neighbourhood forum.

Public hearing in 2018 that rejected original Isle of Dogs Neighbourhood Plan. Picture: Mike BrookePublic hearing in 2018 that rejected original Isle of Dogs Neighbourhood Plan. Picture: Mike Brooke

The area is now facing a new mortgage crisis because of new "Grenfell Tower" fire safety regulations.

The new plans set out critical policies for Tower Hamlets Council for legal restrictions to apply to all future developments and replace the ill-fated Neighbourhood Plan that was a thrown out by a planning inspector last year.

The original rejection was because it included forecasts of a £1bn gap in funds needed for transport, sewers, health services and water and power mains which the GLA hadn't released in time for a public hearing.

But the area is now facing a fresh crisis after the 2017 Grenfell Tower disaster in west London because the densely built-up Isle of Dogs has so many high-rise blocks that may have some form of cladding, the forum's annual meeting heard.

Richard Horwood and Isle of Dogs Forum members... Richard Horwood and Isle of Dogs Forum members... "New tower block fire safety certificates creating a 'mortgage desert' in high rise neighbourhoods", Picture: Mike Brooke

The government's new regulation on fire safety certificates has "an unintended effect of creating a virtual 'mortgage desert' in high rise neighbourhoods", the forum's chairman Richard Horwood pointed out.

"It makes it almost impossible for home-owners to sell or remortgage," he said.

The emerging crisis adds weight to the forum's long-running campaign for the authority to stop all skyscraper permits until developers hand over cash for the extra services needed.

"The council should give the go-ahead at its next cabinet meeting for the final public consultation for our Neighbourhood Plan," Mr Horwood urged. "A public vote should follow that could give the community legal force in the way it wants its development."

Campaigners call for halt to yet more development crowding the Isle of Dogs without first having cash for public services. Picture: Neighbourhood ForumCampaigners call for halt to yet more development crowding the Isle of Dogs without first having cash for public services. Picture: Neighbourhood Forum

A gap of almost £1bn needed to sort out mains and drains for major schemes already given the go-ahead by Tower Hamlets Council or the GLA was first unveiled by the East London Advertiser 19 months ago.

The shock figure came in a council Infrastructure forecast using figures from City Hall's unpublished draft Funding Study for the Isle of Dogs and South Poplar.

Campaigners have been calling for tougher planning law to make it illegal to give a green light to schemes without first getting developers to pay for the infrastructure needed, with the Isle of Dogs' population set to rise by another 40,000 by 2030.

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