Thursday, 17 August 2017

Benjy's Towers - Planning Permission REFUSED again

The application to build on the former Benjy's site has tonight been refused planning permission with six councillors voting to reject the proposals and with one abstention.

In February, and again in April, committee members were minded not to support officer recommendations for the following reasons:

1. Height, bulk and massing and impact on townscape
2. Density and overdevelopment of the site
3. The servicing provision
4. Loss of the community facility
5. Design of the proposal
6. Air Quality issues

Tonight the refusal was for much the same reasons (except for item 4 - see later) and it was apparent the new proposals in no way addressed these pre-existing concerns.

The new proposal's main difference is that it makes provision for relocating the Backstreet nightclub into the basement of the new development. Whilst this was largely welcomed (Backstreet has existed on the site for over 20 years without a problem), this new element of the scheme introduced new concerns relating to a nightclub and homes being literally on top of each other.

So what now?

As ever we will have to wait and see the exact wording of the decision, but I suspect the developers will launch an official appeal and I think it is likely the mix of accommodation will change to fewer family homes and more 1-bedroom and studio flats. I wouldn't be surprised if the next scheme to go to the planners is one for student accommodation.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Bow Church Summer Fair: Saturday 19th August 2017, 12-4PM

This coming Saturday sees Bow Church's Summer Fair which is always worth popping along to. As well as providing an excuse to indulge in a cream tea [or two] it is also a wonderful opportunity to meet neighbours in a relaxing and friendly environment. 

At 2PM on the day there is the official book launch for two new books "The Bow Church Memorial Cross and the Battle of Loos, 1915" and "Remembering the Men of Mile End and Bow"

I hope to see some of you there.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Benjy's Tower - 562 Mile End Road & 1a, 1b, 1c Burdett Road

Comparison CGI View from Grove Road South - Original (left) and submitted (right)
The latest revised planning application for the Benjy's site goes before Tower Hamlets' Strategic Planning Committee this Thursday (17th August, 7PM, Town Hall). You can read the latest application here. The key revisions are a reduction in height of the main tower from 15-storeys to 12-storeys, and the 3-storey element now uses a red brick to match the 8-storey element to the southern half of the site to further break up massing.

MEOTRA have written an objection letter to this latest revised application. Our objections relate to:

  1. The building is too tall
  2. Dwelling Sizes
  3. Flexible business use
  4. Space for loading
  5. Microclimate
A number of residents will be attending the meeting and at least one is due to speak. But as it is the holiday season some of those that have attended previously are unable to on this occasion. If you are able to attend then that would be great as councillors do take into account the level of local opposition.

Meeting details 

Strategic Development Committee, Thursday, 17th August, 2017 7.00 p.m
Venue: Council Chamber, 1st Floor, Town Hall, Mulberry Place, 5 Clove Crescent, London, E14 2BG

Friday, 11 August 2017

B2 Area Parking Consultation

Idyllic view or double-parking hotspot with boaters leaving their high emission engines running?
Tower Hamlets Council are currently conducting an informal consultation on parking within our B2 area. Hopefully you will have received a consultation form in the post. If you haven't don't worry - they are being sent out in batches.

MEOTRA have had emails and feedback from several residents and I think everyone agrees the form is very poorly designed. Some of the questions make as much sense if you read them backwards as forwards!

We have noticed that the form only presents consultees with three options, ALL of which amount to increasing restrictions. There is no option to keep things as they are. If you want to keep the status quo then don't feel as though you have to tick one of the three options. Just scratch out the three choices and write in the Section 4 comments section that you don't want a change. Hopefully you have neater handwriting than me ;)

There has already been quite a bit of discussion on the Tredegar Square Next Door website about the letter. It transpires the consultation has been carried out largely as a result of increased parking issues in the Fairfield Road area (see the FCARA website for more info). Councillors understand that adjustments need to be made on some streets, but will not be implementing any blanket changes across the whole B2 area as the consultation suggests. Ultimately it is a political decision, not one made by council officers.

It really does stick out what a dog's dinner the consultation is. Take the opening paragraph:
"Tower Hamlets on-street team can help motorists save time and money, while also contributing to more attractive neighbourhoods. Unrestricted parking leads to congestion, obstructions and space being taken up often by non-local users".
 which roughly translates as:
"We, the on-street team, are the local motorist's friend and don't like those pesky inroaders who come and take your parking spots".
"Our" on-street team seem to have been living under a rock. The letter and consultation show no understanding of what it is like to live in our area in a car-free development such as Tutelage Court or be one of the many locals who don't own a car. We [yep I'm one of them], do once in a blue moon need to use a ZipVan or persuade a friend to help drop stuff off to the tip or pop to Ikea for another Billy Bookcase. These are weekend things. I don't want to have to go on NextDoor to beg for a scratchcard because mine expired last week, or the roofer used them up when he came after that July flash flood.

The council need to realise car-free developments aren't 100% car-free - it isn't that simple. The proposed 46-apartment development on Benjy's website (aka Benjy's Tower) has ONE car parking space (designated disabled) and relies on ALL service vehicles parking on the existing Burdett Road lay-by.

MEOTRA will be writing to the council regarding this consultation so please do feel free to let us know via any points you would like us to raise.

The closing date for the consultation is the 8th of September

Friday, 4 August 2017

No Laughing Matter

No Laughing Matter is the name of a campaign by Tower Hamlets Council, Tower Hamlets Police and Tower Hamlets Homes to help tackle some of the problems caused by nitrous oxide.
It follows complaints from residents that antisocial behaviour linked to the taking of nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, has become a significant concern within the borough.

Residents say that it can be intimidating to see groups of people taking it, causes noise nuisance and it is also a litter problem because small metal canisters containing it are often left discarded. The police have also received reports of people taking it while behind the wheel of a car. Indeed the Love Wapping website has documented several car crashes where the use of nitrous oxide has been implicated.

The issues and actions are detailed in this leaflet.

What you can do to help:

Illegal Sale: The council’s Trading Standards Team are working with the police to tackle retail outlets that sell gas to people who misuse it. You can report an outlet to the Trading Standard team by emailing

LitteringIf canisters are in streets or parks please use the Fix My Street app/website as this will help MEOTRA see hotspots and nudge the powers that be to target these. Alternatively you can report them to the council’s street cleaning team on 020 7364 5004. 

As part of the campaign, the partners will also be educating people about what the substance is and the risks to health; and talking to school children about the dangers of nitrous oxide