‘Illegally demolished historic cottages must be rebuilt brick by brick’ Tower Hamlets Council orders

Victorian cottages on Isle of Dogs before being demolished overnight. Picture: Google

Victorian cottages on Isle of Dogs before being demolished overnight. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

Historic cottages said to have been illegally demolished on the Isle of Dogs must be re-built by the owners exactly as they stood before, Tower Hamlets council has ordered.

Victorian cottages on Isle of Dogs before being demolished overnight. Picture: Google

Victorian cottages on Isle of Dogs before being demolished overnight. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

Enforcement notices have been issued giving the owners 18 months to rebuild the three Victorian properties in the Coldharbour conservation area next to Canary Wharf.

The three mid-19th century cottages at 2-6 East Ferry Road, in the shadow of tower blocks in Marsh Wall, were demolished without planning permission, first revealed exclusively in the East London Advertiser in July, 2016.

The demolition was discovered by Tower Hamlets councillor Peter Golds, whose Isle of Dogs constituency includes East Ferry Road.

Victorian cottages on Isle of Dogs before being demolished overnight. Picture: Google

Victorian cottages on Isle of Dogs before being demolished overnight. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

He had warned the town hall three months before that the cottages were being left “in a dilapidated state ready to be bulldozed”.

Peter celebrated with delighted residents last night when the Advertiser broke the news of the enforcement notice to him.


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“It shows that we’re not a pushover for every speculative development that comes forward,” Cllr Golds told the paper.

Historic cottages withstood the Luftwaffe in 1940... but not the demolition gang in 2016! Picture: L

Historic cottages withstood the Luftwaffe in 1940... but not the demolition gang in 2016! Picture: LBTH - Credit: LBTH

“The demolition was immoral and illegal. There were no planning applications to demolish the cottages which were listed and protected in a conservation area.

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“Why should anyone have the right to destroy part of London’s heritage?”

It is the first time Tower Hamlets Council has ever made such an order to restore property that has been destroyed.

Victorian cottages on Isle of Dogs before being demolished overnight. Picture: Google

Victorian cottages on Isle of Dogs before being demolished overnight. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

But other local authorities in London like Westminster, Brent and Wandsworth have set a precedent for court action to restore illegally demolished structures, Cllr Golds pointed out.

The owners have been accused by Mayor John Biggs this week of causing or permitting the demolition and repeatedly refusing “to give a credible explanation” for their destruction during exhaustive enquiries by the council.

The Mayor said: “They should be made to replace these properties like for like, brick by brick.

Victorian cottages on Isle of Dogs before being demolished overnight. Picture: Google

Victorian cottages on Isle of Dogs before being demolished overnight. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

“It is right that those who show contempt for our heritage assets should face legal action.”

Neighbours found the cottages—which had survived when the rest of the entire block was destroyed on the first night of the Blitz on September 7, 1940—were now reduced to a pile of rubble over a summer holiday weekend in 2016.

A Town Hall spokesman said: “We believe such flagrant breaches of planning control should not go undeterred and without consequences.”

The owners have appealed against the council’s enforcement notice, to be heard by the Secretary of State.

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