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Council disputes London Mayor’s ‘intervention’ over Docklands towers

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Tower Hamlets Council has rebutted London Mayor Boris Johnson’s claims to have intervened in the masterplanning of a key Isle of Dogs development area.

Last week the Greater London Authority (GLA) announced that Johnson had acted because he was ‘concerned’ that the uncoordinated development of tall buildings in the South Quay area, near Canary Wharf, could have a ‘detrimental impact’ on London’s skyline and the public realm without an overall masterplan.

South Quay has 28 potential development sites, with several earmarked for for buildings over 50-storeys in height – including Foster + Partners’ 73-storey South Quay Plaza,  which was submitted for planning earlier this year.

However, Tower Hamlets disputed Johnson’s suggestion that he had intervened at South Quay and insisted that the GLA had a longstanding involvement in its South Quay Masterplan, which is being drawn up by Maccreanor Lavington, Deloitte, and Land Use Consultants.

The masterplan is due to go out to public consultation later this year, although last month Canary Wharf Conservative councillor Andrew Wood claimed Tower Hamlets had given insufficient promotion to low-key informal-consultation on the plans.

A Tower Hamlets spokeswoman said it was ‘ inaccurate’ to suggest the GLA was working with the authority due to any concerns that have been raised about the South Quay area.

‘The GLA have not ‘intervened’ in the proposed redevelopment at South Quay,’ she said.

‘As with all significant developments in the borough, South Quay has been determined by the council’s Strategic Development Committee, based on an assessment of the Tower Hamlets Local Plan and other planning guidance to include an overarching vision to improve the quality of life for everyone who lives and works in the borough.

‘The plans were developed in close dialogue with colleagues at the GLA.’  

Edward Lister, London’s deputy mayor for planning said South Quay was enjoying ‘unprecedented interest from developers’ and that a situation in which planning permission was granted on a first-come-first-served basis could not be allowed.

‘This masterplan will allow us to take a coordinated approach so that this growth is managed in a sensible way with developers coordinating their proposals,’ he said.

Lister also voiced concern over the future planning of South Quay at an AJ100 breakfast event earlier this year.

Johnson’s intervention bid stands in stark contrast to his rejection of AJ’s Skyline proposals for an expert commission to look at future high-rise development in the capital.

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