Councillors refuse 319-home proposals against planning officers’ advice

East London councillors have refused to grant planning permission to a 3DReid-designed scheme for two residential towers near Canary Wharf – against the advice of planning officers.

The decision by Tower Hamlets council’s strategic development committee confirms sentiments over the 30- and 26-storey scheme, earmarked for a site at Millharbour, aired a their October meeting.

3DReid’s scheme was created for developer Meadow Residential and would have delivered 319 homes and around 1,700sq m of non-residential floorspace for retail and nursery use on a 0.65ha site, currently occupied by low-rise office and retail buildings.

Council planning officers had said they considered the scheme to be a high-quality design that would deliver 30% affordable housing, but accepted that when viewed from particular locations it would not “systematically step down” from the much taller structures at Canary Wharf.

They had argued that while the borough had a policy on buildings stepping down in height south of Canary Wharf, it should not be viewed in an isolated way but should “take account of the wider context” and continued to recommend the scheme for approval.

Members of the strategic development committee last week unanimously voted to reject the proposals.

Millharbour massing

Massing of 3DReid’s Millharbour scheme, seen in context from the west

They said the scale and height of the proposed development was “excessive” within its local context, and “would not maintain the transition in height between Canary Wharf and the lower-rise buildings to the south” in contradiction with particular local strategies and planning policies.

“The proposed scale, height and massing would result in a development that is overbearing, is unduly prominent in local views and detracts from the low-rise character of the area to the south,” their resolution said.

“The proposed development therefore fails to respect the features that contribute to the area’s character and local distinctiveness and demonstrates clear symptoms of over-development and excessive density.”

Councillors also said 3DReid’s proposals failed to mitigate the impact of the development because of the absence of a legal agreement to secure planning-gain contributions.

The refused scheme was created after the withdrawal of 2014 proposals by O’Mahony Pike and Metropolitan Workshop for a 45-storey tower and two buildings of up to 15 storeys. 3DReid said the earlier scheme, which would have delivered 484 homes, was abandoned for viability reasons.

Earlier in the year, the strategic development committee went against officers’ advice and refused planning permission for Make Architects’ 225 Marsh Wall tower – earmarked for a site north-west of Millharbour – despite the scheme being reworked and cut in height from 56 to 49 storeys.

Glengall Quay, by O’Mahony Pike and Metropolitan Workshop

O’Mahony Pike and Metropolitan Workshop’s 2014 Millharbour proposals, known as Glengall Quay