Newsletter No 9 - December 2017
from Councillor Andrew Wood, Canary Wharf ward
The tall dark green building in the middle left of the picture above is Alpha Square, a 65 as well as 34 storey tower with a hotel, 634 apartments, primary school and health centre. It is where the BUPA building used to be on Marsh Wall and the North Pole pub on Manilla Street (which will be preserved as part of the application). See pictures below.
The Sunday Times now have a front page story about alleged corruption relating to this planning application, this is how their story starts:
"Labour has been plunged into a corruption scandal after a businessman with close ties to the party was secretly recorded demanding a £2m bribe from property developers seeking to build one of Britain’s tallest skyscrapers.
In the recording — obtained by The Sunday Times — the businessman claimed he was acting on behalf of Labour politicians who could guarantee planning permission for the proposed £500m development in the Isle of Dogs, east London.
He was introduced by Shiria Khatun, a deputy mayor of Labour- controlled Tower Hamlets council, as someone who could assist with planning.
He later sent a contract to the developers setting out the illicit deal in which he would “deliver planning approval” from Tower Hamlets at a “premium of £2,000,000”. Four Labour politicians would be given “half a mill” each, he claimed."
The full story is in todays Sunday Times, front page and pages 10 and 11. Link here to the main story (behind a pay wall) plus to a 6 minute audio recording of a conversation between the businessman and the developer. But you can buy the paper today.
The developer reported the approach to Mayor John Biggs in November 2015 and did not pay the bribe. But it was only 5 months later in April 2016 that consultants EY were called into investigate by the Council, they then said it was so serious that the police had to be contacted. But since then apparently nothing has happened.
The planning application was rejected by Tower Hamlets Council in February 2016 and the article implies that the GLA were surprised by this. They later called in the development and approved it in April 2016, work is due to start next year.
Tom Randall and myself will let you know more later but it raises a whole host of troubling questions. Was this one businessman trying it on?, could he actually buy votes? Did he approach other developers? But the real question is why the Council took so long to act and why did they not call the police immediately they were aware of the allegations.
Summary of planning application
"Application for demolition of all buildings on site at 50 Marsh Wall, 63-69 and 68-70 Manilla Street to enable redevelopment to provide three buildings of 65 (217.5m AOD), 20 (79.63m AOD) and 34 (124.15m AOD) storeys above ground comprising 634 residential units (Class C3), 231 hotel rooms (Class C1), provision of ancillary amenity space, a new health centre (Class D1), a new school (Class D1), ground floor retail uses (Class A3), provision of a new landscaped piazza, public open space and vehicular access, car parking, cycle storage and plant. Retention of 74 Manilla Street as North Pole public house (Class A4)."