A decision on the Virginia Quay application is expected later today and residents fear that their concerns will be ignored.
In February, London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC) considered, and deferred, an application for a 12-storey tower block in Virginia Quay. The LTGDC stated that: “the application was deferred to enable officers, with legal advice, to clarify potential wording of reasons for refusal”.
The development has caused outcry from more than 800 locals who are angry that the corporation has prolonged the application, given the arguments against it and the lack of popular support.
Virginia Quay residents and councilors are concerned the height of the building would reduce open space, block sunlight, and generate a sense of enclosure in the area.
LTGDC has a responsibility to regenerate east London until October this year when responsibility will return to Tower Hamlets council (who oppose the scheme). Those whose homes and families will be affected do not feel the corporation has been forthcoming.
Reasons against the proposed development, which were highlighted by members of Tower Hamlets Council’s planning committee, include overdevelopment, reduced sunlight for neighbouring tower blocks and a lack of affordable housing.
Geeta Kasanga, one of the Virginia Quay residents leading the campaign against the proposal, told EastLondonLines: “The way they’re treating the public is really appalling. It’s totally exhausting and frustrating to have a public body not give us the attention we deserve. We should be treated neutrally.”
Kasanga, who has a 23-month-old toddler and is a senior consultant for a nationwide charity, says it has been a “struggle to keep pace” with this campaign that has not only cost her time, but money as well. At the time of writing, over £2500 has been spent by residents to pay for independent consultants and barristers to look over the proposals and give them a fighting chance.
“We’re so worried that if this goes through it could set a precedent. We’re all for well-researched, well-planned applications, with affordable housing that people will be able to buy. But the one they’re proposing won’t benefit local people” Kasanga said.
Cube Developments has made amendments to its original application during this period, switching from nine one-bedroom units to six two-bedroom units, something which Kasanga describes has having “no impact” since there is still not adequate room to support the borough’s average family size of four. Kasanga also claims that Cube’s actions regarding a parking consultation, which was conducted at 6am wasn’t a fair assessment, and that they were “misinforming the corporation”.
“It shouldn’t come to this. We’re young professionals with young families… Cube don’t feel hearing our concerns is its priority. I think they feel emboldened by [the response from their legal counsel] and that shouldn’t be the case.”
Peter Golds, councillor for Blackwall & Cubitt Town, who has been closely involved with the campaign against Cube Developments, told EastLondonLines he was “appalled” by LTGDC’s actions: “At least if a local authority planning committee does something, you can do something about it. We can do nothing about these people. They’re responsible for nobody but themselves” he said.
Simon Brody, a director at Cube Developments, did not wish to comment on whether his company would consider appealing if the application does not go in its favour. When asked how closely the organisation has consulted with residents, he said: “We did consult [residents] and tried to be as open as possible with it.”
A spokesperson for LTGDC said: “It would be inappropriate to make a comment until the matter is determined.”
The corporation stresses that applications go through a process of consideration where the committee members consider the objections.
UDPATE: The LTGDC have ruled in the developer’s favour. Full story to come.