Council supports residents in development fight

Virginia Quay residents take a stand. Pic: Aaron Lee

Residents opposing a 12-storey residential development in the Docklands have been backed by Tower Hamlets Council.

Over 650 Virginia Quay residents, of 1000, rejected a proposed 12-storey tower block at Newport Avenue, which is currently under the jurisdiction of London Thames Gateway Development Corporation.

The building would be located on the north riverbank, directly on top of a car park and green that is part of the existing Virginia Quay development, and 100m from the East India station.

Virginia Quay residents say it is a “travesty” they have had to struggle so hard to get their voice heard by the LTGDC, and builders Cube Developments.

LTGDC guidelines, which allow interested parties a mere five minutes to speak, have come under fire before. Last month, residents of Fish Island protested they were effectively ‘gagged’.

The level of opposition to the Virginia Quay project has been so significant that there have been two voluntary hearings at Tower Hamlets Council to canvass concerns. In this complex situation, the council can only advise. Planning permission ultimately rests with LTGDC.

But a unanimous decision against the development by the Council’s Development Committee last week has strengthened the residents’ cause. Of the many reasons for disapproval, the Council highlighted the fact that there was not “proper consultation by the developer with residents”.

Dr Mubeen Khan, 35, who has been leading the residents in their campaign, said: “We’ve won the battle, but the war is still to be won. We need all the support can we can against LTGDC.

“People are paranoid to stand against builders because there is the option of legal rights to the builders, which invariably leads to a situation where sometimes there is a denial to basic democratic rights for residents.”

A LTGDC spokesperson told EastLondonLines: “Residents have been given every opportunity to speak out and have been consulted regarding this development.

“As the application is yet to be heard by the planning committee, residents still have the opportunity for their objections to be formally considered at the committee meeting which is scheduled for January 12.”

Planning control over Lower Lea Valley will be returned to London boroughs on October 1, 2012, as the corporation is due to be dissolved next year.

However, there have been claims that LTGDC should leave developments of this magnitude to Tower Hamlets Council, as it will hold responsibility in future.

The corporation responded: “LTGDC is the statutory planning authority in this case. It is not a matter of discretion in deciding who should determine a planning application.”

EastLondonLines also contacted Cube Developments for comment, but received no reply.

The council’s decision comes just one month after the LTGDC approved outline planning permission for a nightclub on Bow’s Fish Island, which has been fiercely opposed by residents.

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