Saturday 21 January 2012

London Mayor Rejects Forest Gate Redevelopment Plans

In a letter sent on Wednesday to Newham council, Mayor of London Boris Johnson has rejected the planning application for major regeneration in Forest Gate centred around Earlham Grove, which would have involved 800 new homes and a highly controversial 27 storey tower block.

The letter from the Senior Planning Manager at the Greater London Authority says:

"The Mayor considers that the application does not comply with the London Plan... Having consider the report the Mayor takes a different view on the acceptability of the tall building in this location. He does not consider that this location is suitable for a tall building on this scale."

The decision to reject the application also sets out (in paragraph 141) a number of other concerns, including insufficient information on housing quality, the impact on equalities, community facilities and heritage considerations.

In a statement e-mailed from the Save Forest Gate Campaign, local resident Paul Holloway said:

"This is fantastic news for the community in Forest Gate, which has been overwhelmingly opposed to this development since it first became public knowledge in the summer.

The GLA also criticised the planning application regarding the Retail Strategy, loss of community facilities, the impact on ethnic minorities, lack of affordable, family housing – and the GLA also makes it clear that the housing density is excessive – and that it had been under-stated in the planning application".

Dr Opara-Mottoh, Member of the Methodist Church Council added:

“We are very glad that Boris Johnson has seen sense in rejecting the planning application and we hope that Newham Council will also see sense when they consider the application in February”.

The rejection of the plans does not necessarily mean that the project is dead: the GLA report sets out (in paragraph 142) a number of remedies that property developers Obsidian can consider "that would possibly lead to the application becoming complaint with the London Plan." However, the decision by Boris Johnson's administration to reject another planning application in Newham, one that also centred around a huge tower block, completely killed off efforts by developers St Modwen to redevelop Queens Market in Upton Park.

Obsidian will have a massive task - and potentially an hugely expensive one - if they intend to rescue their deeply flawed proposals. As Dr Opara-Mottoh says, it will be interesting to see what Newham council decides to do next.

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