New housing scheme would ‘cut off emergency vehicle access’ to Limehouse tower block, planners warned
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Emergency fire crews could be hampered getting to an 18-storey tower block next to the Limehouse Cut after planners agreed last night to allow more high-rise housing to be built on its car-park access route.
Plans to expand the Brunton Wharf estate turning it into a “car free zone” were passed at Tower Hamlets Council which would fill in the car-park access from Yorkshire Road and would hem in the 18-storey Caledonia House with its back to the canal.
Fire-tenders would have to be parked along an already-congested Yorkshire Road next to Limehouse railway arches 200 yards away and a high-riser water system would have to be used in any emergency.
But the scheme can’t go ahead unless the fire and safety authorities agree, the council’s planning committee was warned.
“We continue to consult with the London Fire Brigade,” its area planning manager Jerry Bell said. “The design will have to change if it doesn’t satisfy them. That would mean another public consultation if it can’t be resolved.”
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The fire authority has already met the estate’s tenants and residents over concerns about emergency access to Caledonia House. It is still looking into the effects of losing access through the car-park.
The scheme has had objections from householders nearby worried about more parking along Yorkshire Road, already choked with vehicles which they say would be made worse by losing the off-street car-park.
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Damian Chittock wrote to the town hall’s democratic services chief Zoe Folley citing “a serious problem in Yorkshire Road which is used as a rat-run out of Rotherhithe Tunnel”. He feared: “This development across the road from my home will only encourage even more parking and also have an impact on the Stephen Hawking special school with its buses picking up and dropping off disabled children.”
The application for the new housing, which is to be managed by Tower Hamlets Homes, was approved subject to fire brigade agreement, but would have to go back to the committee should the scheme “need to be changed dramatically” over the fire access issue.
The proposal replaces the car park and vehicle access from Yorkshire Road with a double tower block, one nine storeys, the other four. It would house 32 new flats for social renting, half set at “local living rent” level and the rest based on London living wage.