Legal Neighbourhood Plan adopted to keep check on Isle of Dogs development

Keeping check on Isle of Dogs expansion... legal Neighbourhood Plan now adopted by Tower Hamlets Council

Keeping check on Isle of Dogs expansion... legal Neighbourhood Plan now adopted by Tower Hamlets Council - Credit: IoD Forum

The long-awaited Isle of Dogs Neighbourhood Plan to keep checks and balances on mass development in Britain’s most densely-populated urban space has been formally adopted into planning law. 

It was agreed unanimously by Tower Hamlets Council on May 19 as its official planning policy for the tightly-packed area locked on three sides by the famous loop in the Thames. 

Boomtown... never-ending construction on the Millwall waterfront.

Boomtown... never-ending construction on the Millwall waterfront. - Credit: IoD Forum

There was some concern on ruling Labour benches that it could have gone further in a drive for more “affordable” housing in ratio to the number of office and luxury skyscraper developments that have strained mains supplies, public transport and health and social services as the area population mushrooms. 

Cllr Eve McQuillan said she wanted more low-cost social housing, but that is technically outside the neighbourhood plan’s remit. 

The sentiment was echoed by Deputy Mayor Rachel Blake: “There are real gaps. It won’t fit all the problems, so we have to work with grassroots to bring infrastructure together.” 

Cllr Andrew Wood... card up his sleeve to cut through planning restrictions

Cllr Andrew Wood... card up his sleeve to cut through planning restrictions - Credit: Mike Brooke

But independent councillor Andrew Wood, who is secretary on the Isle of Dogs Forum which drew up the neighbourhood plan, spotted a chink in the regulations on how "community infrastructure" levies can be spent that could help build more cheap housing. 

He told councillors: “We can spend 25 per cent on a wider range of things than the rest of the levy. That can be used for affordable housing, I have found going through the government regulations.” 

Winning team... Isle of Dogs Forum led by Richard Horwood at 2019 hearing at Jack Dash House that led to Neighbourhood Plan.

Winning team... Isle of Dogs Forum led by Richard Horwood at 2019 hearing at Jack Dash House that led to Neighbourhood Plan. - Credit: Mike Brooke

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The new Neighbourhood Plan, which is among the first in London, has given the people of Millwall and Cubitt Town more control over where they live. 

It comes in the week media mogul Richard Desmond’s controversial Westferry printworks development for 1,500 luxury apartments on Millwall’s waterfront goes to a public inquiry after being rejected by Tower Hamlets Council - which had been overruled by the Secretary of State. 

We don’t want to live in the past, but need development to work for everyone and be sustainable.” 

Cllr Peter Golds warns council of developments should work for everyone. - Credit: LBTH

Tory Cllr Peter Golds, who has lived on the Isle of Dogs for 30 years, said: “We don’t want to live in the past, but need development to work for everyone and be sustainable.” 

The Neighbourhood Plan is now formally adopted as the town hall's legal planning policy for the Isle of Dogs, after a public referendum on May 6 gave it a landslide 86 per cent “yes” vote.

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