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People power blasts Gun development clean out of the water

PUBLISHED: 17:48 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:41 05 October 2010

People power blasts Gun development clean out of the water By Else Kvist PEOPLE power broke out last night in a corner of Bow after hundreds of residents persuaded councillors to block a housing development next to Victoria Park. Four of the

People power blasts Gun development clean out of the water

By Else Kvist

PEOPLE power broke out last night in a corner of Bow after hundreds of residents persuaded councillors to block a housing development next to Victoria Park.

Four of the five Labour members of the Tower Hamlets development committee-the only ones to turn up-last night voted against giving permission for a six storey scheme in Gun Wharf.

Developers Durkan Estates wanted to build four tower blocks containing 140 homes and 252 square meters of commercial space on the site, which nestles the Hertford Union Canal, off Old Ford Road, in Bow.

The land is currently home to the last 20 industrial units in the area.

But councillors said they were "minded to refuse" permission over concerns with the proposed scale and design, particularly as the project had the potential to ruin views of Victoria Park.

Councillors will make a final decision next month and Durkan Estates told the Advertiser today: "In light of the council deferring the decision, we will be reviewing the proposals and carefully considering the points made by members of the committee."

Nearly 40 residents turned up for the meeting at the Town Hall to make their feelings known and protest at the way the consultation has been conducted.

Planning officers were met with boos as they tried to explain the developer's ideas.

Scores of residents said they had never even received the consultation letters and were given misleading information.

Kate Marten, who lives next to the proposed site, pleaded with councillors to reject the tower blocks, which she said would stand out like a "sore thumb" and could set a new benchmark for other developments.

Her neighbour, Thara Raj, expressed concern about the loss of jobs if small businesses were forced out and worried the tower blocks would cast the historic Gunmakers' Bridge permanently in shadow.

Concerns were also raised over potentially increased population densities in the area and the impact that hundreds more residents would have on the already crowded number 8 bus route, as well as NHS services.

Cllr Denise Jones said that while she agreed with a mixed used development, she was not happy with the overall look and hard materials.

Instead she suggested that this was an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and create something "fantastic" in keeping with the surroundings.

All three Bow councillors Alex Heslop and Ahmed Omer, who were sitting on the committee, and Marc Francis, who lives next to the site, also disapproved of the plans.

The committee's decision was met by rarely heard cheers and applause from the public gallery.

Residents, who had fought the developers for months over what they described as a "botched" consultation process, said they felt "vindicated" by the verdict.

Heather March, of Connaught Works, summed up the feeling of campaigners.

"I feel quite positive, but surprised," she said.

"I thought it was more or less done and dusted.

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