Isle of Dogs cut in half ‘disenfranchises’ thousands voting for planning forum
PUBLISHED: 12:24 06 April 2016 | UPDATED: 08:02 07 April 2016
Thousands of families have been excluded from a neighbourhood planning forum they voted for in london’s Docklands in a move by Tower Hamlets council which community leaders claim has left them “disenfranchised”.
The families in Blackwall, Leamouth and Westferry have been excluded form the new Isle of Dogs planning forum which was formally recognised by the council’s cabinet meeting last night.
The forum now has legal influence on future planning applications to make sure public services are provided such as surgeries, transport and schools.
But Mayor John Biggs ruled that the area would be limited to Millwall and Cubitt Town only, with a cut-off boundary along South Dock, excluding everything north such as Canary Wharf business district and Wood Wharf.
But the new forum has decided not to go ahead with a threatened legal challenge which could have overturned the council’s decision.
“We could win a judicial review,” the forum’s secretary Andrew Wood told the East London Advertiser.
“But we’d still have to work with the council to be an affective neighbourhood forum, with more planning applications coming in at Marsh Wall and Glengall Grove putting a strain on services.
“To exclude everything above South Quay just doesn’t fit how we live our lives on the Isle of Dogs—most of our shopping and our banking is done at Canary Wharf above that line which is our district centre.”
Now campaigners plan to resubmit an application to the Town Hall for separate forums to be recognised for the excluded areas.
The new forum’s chairman, media entrepreneur Richard Horwood, said after the cabinet decision: “They’ve chopped the Isle of Dogs in half and have given us just the bottom half.
“This absurd assertion just shows a lack of understanding of how we live in our area. We know the area—we are the local experts.
“Those left outside the forum’s defined area who voted in 2014 to be included have been disenfranchised.
“What we’ll do now is assist these excluded areas to set up their own forums which by law will have to be recognised by the council eventually.”
Campaigners are furious at having a 16-month delay since applying for recognition to be given a much-reduced area of influence. The law has now been tightened up which gives local authorities just 13 weeks to decide on recognising neighbourhood forums.
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