Council appeal to retain conservation area

Photo:David Kemp

Tower Hamlets Council are appealing a High Court decision to revoke the designation of the Limehouse Cut as a conservation area.

The February ruling, handed down by Mr. Justice Ouseley, was the result of a two-year conflict between Tower Hamlets Council and Trillium (Prime) Property Group Ltd. Since 2009, Trillium have sought to redevelop the area, which runs along the Limehouse Cut, in plans that included a 14-storey block at the canal’s edge.

The council had refused planning permission and re-designated the land as a conservation area, but February’s ruling found that the correct procedure had not been followed in setting up the Limehouse Cut Conservation Area.

As a result, Justice Ouseley has revoked the designation and ordered Tower Hamlets to pay Trillium £5,000 a week for the security and protection of their Polar Employment Exchange building during the time it takes for the appeal to go through.

Trillium had originally submitted plans to demolish the 1930s Neo-Georgian former labour exchange building. In its place, they initially proposed to set up 56 residential units and offices in a building of 5-10 storeys high.

Opposition to the construction plans came as a local campaign was launched to halt the intended demolition of the historic building. Council officers had initially recommended approval of Trillium’s new development plans. However, the Strategic Planning Committee later rejected that recommendation and planning permission due to the possible impact the new development would have on the community.

Responding to local pressure, the council set up the Limehouse Cut Conservation Area, protecting the former labour exchange along with any other buildings in the surrounding area. This was done without any prior consultation with Trillium or any of the other commercial property owners in the area, thus blocking Trillium’s redevelopments.

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