Councillors in Tower Hamlets have turned down a bid by Berkeley Homes to develop a 56 storey tower, despite the scheme being recommended for approval.
The project at South Quay Plaza 4, on Marsh Wall, would have delivered 396 apartments in a tower 198 metres high, on the cleared site. The scheme also included 25% affordable housing. But, with strong objections voiced by the Isle of Dogs Neighbourhood Forum and local residents groups, the committee decided the scheme fell short on affordable homes, and presented density, daylight and sunlight issues.
The move comes after two nearby projects featuring residential towers were approved by outgoing mayor Boris Johnson, after both had been turned down by Tower Hamlets planners. Alpha Square, a residential tower close to the Berkeley site, and the printworks site, further south on the Isle of Dogs, were both approved with an acknowledgement that they would help make up the borough’s shortfall in housing delivery.
The Berkeley proposal also sits immediately to the west of approved schemes for South Quay Plaza 1-3, which were given consent in March 2015. This development has approval for 888 homes, in 68 and 36 storey towers, and is also within the Berkeley Homes portfolio.
Architects Foster and Partners have designed both projects. Berkeley has said the latest scheme “will complement the existing permission and deliver an enlarged and enhanced public realm strategy that will activate Marsh Wall and bring life to this part of the Isle of Dogs.”
LPA Perspective: Last year, Boris Johnson decided not to exercise his decision-making rights over the earlier phases of Berkeley’s South Quay Plaza redevelopment. But then, Tower Hamlets planners had already given their approval.
Now, the new mayor must decide whether to call in the new phase for review, or leave Berkeley to argue out the scheme with local planners. If he does not intervene, then Berkeley has a good opportunity to successfully appeal the refusal, on the basis that it is a complementary design to the earlier phase that was approved.
This is one project that will not be going away.