Tower Hamlets Council to consider judicial review to stop Westferry Printworks scheme

The plans for the Westferry site. Picture: Mace

The plans for the Westferry site. Picture: Mace - Credit: Archant

Tower Hamlets council has said it will go to war with the government over a controversial application for 1,500 homes that was approved by the Secretary of State this week.

The controversial proposal is for 1,500 homes to be built on the Westferry Printworks site. Picture:

The controversial proposal is for 1,500 homes to be built on the Westferry Printworks site. Picture: Mace - Credit: Archant

Last night. Wednesday, January 15, councillors signed off an emergency motion that stated they would examine "all available options, including a judicial review" in order to stop the Westferry Printworks scheme on the Isle of Dogs going ahead.

The application for 1,500 homes with six towers, the tallest of which is 46 storeys, was rejected by the council and planning inspectorate last year because of its impact on local amenities and lack of affordable housing at just 21 per cent.

But on Tuesday, Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, approved the plans after developer Mace appealed.

He said "the identified harms are outweighed by the benefits of the proposal in terms of additional housing units and additional employment".

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An emergency motion against the decision was unanimously supported by all parties at Wednesday's full council.

Conservative councillor Peter Golds: "We have been slapped around the face with a wet fish by a minister I should be supporting. I represent the Isle of Dogs and I will not be pushed around by anybody in my unwavering support of the people of the island."

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Cllr Andrew Wood added: "I was deeply shocked. The planning inspector listed all the reasons why it should be rejected. I'm mystified by the Secretary of State's decision here."

The original Westferry Printworks scheme for 700 homes and a 30-storey tower was thrown out by Tower Hamlets in 2016 but later approved by then Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Developers then submitted plans that more than doubled the density of housing. This was also rejected by the council and the Planning Inspectorate on appeal.

The timing of the Secretary of State's decision to overrule both parties means the loss of £40million to the council. The old Westferry Printworks plans were exempt from the levy in exchange for a higher ratio of "affordable" housing.

But the cash-for-cheaper-homes deal was scrapped at last night's meeting, as the council adopted it's new local plan just 24 hours after the Printworks designs were approved by the government.

Mayor John Biggs said: "It is a massively tall and dense development. Something of 40 floors on the island is an outrage.

"By making the decision on Tuesday we also lose a massive sum of money. This development will place a huge impact on the island. It is a scandal and outrageous. We will be doing everything in our power [including] seeking a judicial review."

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