Sewer and drainage capacity on the Isle of Dogs may not be able to cope with the 10 massive redevelopments now under way along the Thames, it has emerged.

%image(14925077, type="article-full", alt="Massive Isle of Dogs developments causing strain on mains utilities. Picture source: Isle of Dogs Forum")

That’s the formal view of Thames Water’s submission to a public hearing being held next month into the proposed Neighbourhood Plan and the right for current residents to decide the area’s future.

The utility company has been concerned about lack of mains pressure at South Quay and other parts of the Isle of Dogs where there are huge tower block developments.

Its submission seen by the East London Advertiser says: “Upgrades to the existing infrastructure may be required to ensure sufficient capacity ahead of development.

“The strategy should be submitted with any planning application by developers who should liaise with us to determine what is required, when and where, if there is constrained capacity.”

%image(14925078, type="article-full", alt=""Our right to make policies have been challenged"... Isle of Dogs Planning Forum chair Richard Horwood. Picture: Mike Brooke")

Mains freshwater needs are more complex for any proposed housing, however. More details are required from Tower Hamlets Council’s “aspirations for housing” at each site, it adds, such as the scale and anticipated completion date.

But before then, tenants and residents on older housing estates should be able to vote on whether their homes are torn down to make way for rejuvenation projects, the Isle of Dogs Neighbourhood Planning Forum demands.

The forum’s chair Richard Horwood said: “Our right to make some of the policies have been challenged by some developers, the council and the GLA.

“The millions paid by the developers to the council for services to support new buildings should be spent where intended—on Isle of Dogs priorities rather than elsewhere in Tower Hamlets.”

%image(14925079, type="article-full", alt="Packed meeting of Isle of Dogs Forum in February, 2017, railing against over development. Picture: Mike Brooke")

But his forum is up against opposition to its proposed Neighbourhood Plan going before next month’s public inquiry.

But Thames Water has come out in support of a residents’ policy that Richard claims the council and GLA “are trying to block”.

It is calling on local authorities to insist on infrastructure solutions before giving planning permission.

Its property chief Richard Hill says in his submission: “We support the requirement for all infrastructure needs to be identified prior to development coming forward and the requirement for all planning applications to have made clear how, where and when such infrastructure will be supplied.”

Currently the council can give planning permission with a provision that services are sorted out. But Thames Water wants it the other way round, so developers get the go-ahead from them before applying for planning permission.

There are 16 major current developments across the East End where the public sewage and drainage network it says won’t be able to cope. These include 10 on the Isle of Dogs alone—Crossharbour town centre (Asda supermarket), Limeharbour, North Quay Upper Bank Street, North Quay Aspen Way, Millharbour and Millharbour South, Marsh Wall West and Marsh Wall East, South Westferry Circus and Westferry Printworks site.

The other six major schemes likely to put pressure on the drainage network are the nearby Wood Wharf and the Reuters Blackwall Yard schemes, the massive Bishopsgate goodsyard project stretching between Spitalfields, Shoreditch and Bethnal Green, the Poplar gasworks site by the Lea River, the Bethnal Green gasworks site at The Oval by the Regent’s Canal and ironically the Whitechapel south side which includes the new Tower Hamlets civic centre due to open by 2022.

Policies such as adequate infrastructure like drainage and mains supplies “must be identified and guaranteed” before more residential buildings or hotels are permitted by Tower Hamlets Council, the Isle of Dogs forum insists.

The public examination with appointed examiner John Parmiter on May 10 at Millwall’s Jack Dash House, next to the two Marsh Wall schemes, is the final stage before the forum’s Neighbourhood Plan goes to a public referendum in the summer.

The aim of the hearing is to consider whether its policies comply with regulations and legal requirements—not whether it is a good plan or not.