Building new tower block starts on Limehouse Triangle 'wildlife site'
- Credit: LBTH
Work has started on a council housing scheme on the controversial Limehouse Triangle, a former biodiversity site next to the Regent’s Canal which had been flattened without planning consent.
A “breaking ground” event was staged, with the mayor of Tower Hamlets opening the fourth stage of the Locksley Estate expansion.
“It's quite a difficult site to build on,” Mayor John Biggs said. “But it will provide much-needed ‘100 per cent affordable’ homes for families.”
The 17 flats in an eight-storey tower are part of a programme to build 2,000 council homes for social rent or within Tower Hamlets Living Rent scale.
The tight triangle locked between the canal, Salmon Lane and maisonettes on the Locksley Estate was made a biodiversity reserve by the council 21 years ago.
But the council's own bulldozers moved in and cleared trees and shrubbery in 2016 without planning permission, which caused protests from families campaigning to save the green space in the densely developed urban neighbourhood.
It also caused a storm at the town hall, where councillors rejected their own housing department's scheme three times.
Tory Cllr Andrew Wood told the East London Advertiser at the time: “We can say ‘no’. Limehouse has a shortage of green space.
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"The community programme to maintain the triangle must be restarted with tree and hedge planting so it can be used by the three schools nearby for wildlife education.”
He backed campaigners calling for the triangle to be declared official parkland and for the replanting of native-species hedges as part of a "green corridor” along the canal from Limehouse to Victoria Park.
But the administration resubmitted the housing scheme four times to the authority's planning committee, despite the rejections.
Campaigner Alicia Joseph told the paper: “We can win this battle because of the way the scheme was relentlessly pushed through. There was no public consultation before the site was cleared.”
But the hotly-contested scheme by the council's own housing organisation finally got the green light.
The contractors Bouygues UK took over the site last October and work, which began this month, is expected to be complete in November next year.