Tower won’t be rising from ashes of Phoenix factory after fears about its shadow

Residents association chair Andrew Ager fighting tower block overshadowing Limehouse Cut

Residents association chair Andrew Ager fighting tower block overshadowing Limehouse Cut - Credit: Archant

A 14-storey tower block in London’s East End won’t be rising from the ashes of the Phoenix Works to overshadow the Limehouse Cut or a nearby park—at least for the present.

Families living alongside ‘The Cut’ in Poplar and Bow Common have clipped the wings of developers who want to put up 162 new homes when they demolish Spiller’s old Phoenix dog biscuit factory on the canal bank.

Tower Hamlets has refused to give the green light after householders protested that their homes would be cast in shadow with a 30 per cent daylight loss.

The council’s planning committee is to visit the site instead, to see what impact it would have on the neighbourhood, after being given a presentation on the development that would also overlook Poplar’s Bartlett Park.

A team from Fairview Homes, which has applied for the scheme, stormed out of the Town Hall’s public gallery last week when councillors voted to delay it—spelling victory for the families in the first round of their battle to stop the tower block rising.

“That tower would look like the elephant in the room,” Silver Wharf Residents Association chairman Andrew Ager (pictured above) told the East London Advertiser. “It would dwarf our homes and also encroach on Bartlett Park.”

None of the 300 residents the other side of the canal received notice of the proposed tower, he told the planning meeting. It had come out of the blue.

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The Phoenix site, currently used for a wholesale food trade business, has had a shisha bar operating under a tent from 4pm to 4am every day, seven days a week.

“We’re glad to see the back of it,” Andrew added. “We had to work with the council and police to get something done.

“We want the site developed, but not with a tower blocking out our daylight.”

The Canals & Rivers Trust which looks after Britain’s waterways also objects to the Phoenix scheme that would be “an additional burden” on canal and towpath management, as well as having “a negative impact from increased shadowing”.

One householder on the opposite bank, Catherine O’Mahony, said: “The developers claimed they carried out extensive consultations—but everyone we spoke to had not been consulted. We think that was a bit manipulative.”

Council officers urged the scheme should go ahead, but Cllr Marc Francis and his committee threw out their recommendation.

Instead, the Phoenix has been put on the back burner while councillors visit the site to see what impact it would have on homes that would be cast in its shadow.