Council house development scrapped as Tower Hamlets’ housing crisis hits headlines

Labour councillors demonstrate against the scrapping of plans for 149 new council homes at Watts Gro

Labour councillors demonstrate against the scrapping of plans for 149 new council homes at Watts Grove. Credit: Raju Rahman - Credit: Archant

A plan to build almost 150 new council homes on the site of a former highway maintenance depot has been scrapped – as Tower Hamlets’ housing crisis hit national headlines.

The scheme, which would have brought 149 new homes to Bromley-by-Bow, was scrapped at a behind-closed doors meeting amid fears of affordability.

The decision has triggered renewed fears over the borough’s housing crisis, as the waiting list for council homes remained stubbornly at 24,000 people.

Opposition councillors blamed “financial mismanagement” by Independent Mayor Lutfur Rahman.

Labour’s housing spokesman, Abdal Ullah, added: “Housing is the number one priority for many people living in run down or overcrowded homes.

“By scrapping this scheme, the Mayor has failed all those families who are in desperate need of new social housing.”

The £23million scheme, at the Watts Grove site, has been in the pipeline for more than a year.

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But despite the decision to scrap the plan, the council insisted it was on track to bring 4,000 new homes to the borough by 2014.

“The fact is, plans for housing developments change all the time for various reasons, including economic and commercial ones,” a spokesman said.

“The changes to the plans for the Watts Grove site are not impacting on the number of homes being delivered in Tower Hamlets.”

The development came within days of a programme documenting the struggles faced by people looking for council housing in the borough airing on Channel 4.

Among those featured on the show was a former investment banker, who was facing a six year wait to move out of his one bedroom council flat, where he lived with his wife and two children.

Mike Kemp told the programme that he was left in financial ruin after his business folded. He could not afford to rent on the private market, and was desperate to remain in Tower Hamlets while his daughter studied for her GCSEs.