Historic cottages demolished without permission are unlikely to be rebuilt
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Three Victorian cottages in a conservation area on the Isle of Dogs which were demolished without permission are likely to never be rebuilt.
Tower Hamlets Council had ordered the homes in East Ferry Road, to be restored “brick by brick” after they were torn down over a weekend in July 2016.
It argued the developer bulldozed the properties, which survived the Blitz, without permission or consideration for the impact on the local conservation area.
But after a two-year legal battle the Planning Inspectorate has decided there is no obligation to rebuild and the area can be opened up for development.
Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs said yesterday: “It’s an outrage, an absolute disgrace. What kind of message does this send out?
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“Developers seem to have free reign to do whatever they want. We are looking at our options.”
The three cottages were not listed but were within the Coldharbour Conservation Area, created in 1975.
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This granted protection to the buildings and meant even moderate changes needed planning permission. No one was living in the houses in the run up to them being torn down, but they had been classed as structurally safe by inspectors.
German bombing raids destroyed most of the other homes in the road during the Second World War. Ten bombs fell on the immediate area between October 1940 and June the following year, but the three properties remained mainly undamaged.
They were owned by developer Angelic Interiors, which is now in administration.
The appeal was conducted by their
administrators who argued that “exact copies” of the homes could not be recreated and the cottages were demolished by a third party that was caring for them at the time, not Angelic Interiors.
The hearing also heard that in 2005 the council had been in talks to put a block of flats on the site.
Simon Hand, for the Planning Inspectorate, said: “I would not like to suggest the loss [of the cottages] causes no harm at all, but I consider that the harm is very much at the lowest end of that scale. The area is characterised by modern flatted developments and a similar scheme on the appeal site would not be out of place”
Councillors will discuss the case, and the 89 other planning appeals which have gone to the Planning Inspectorate in the last year, at a meeting tomorrow (Thursday).
A council spokesman said: “We are disappointed that the inspector has chosen to grant the developers’ appeal. These were culturally and historically significant buildings and their demolition without permission was unacceptable.
“Residents of the Isle of Dogs were rightly outraged at the time and were supportive of our order for them to be rebuilt.
“We are seeking legal advice and will be making a decision on our next steps in the coming weeks.”