Newsletter No 7 - December 2017
from Councillor Andrew Wood, Canary Wharf ward
Last Thursday night Councillors rejected the Millharbour Meadow planning application for a 30 storey tower for the 2nd and final time despite increasing the affordable % to 40%. The developer can now appeal to the Mayor of London, the courts or submit a new planning application. The reason for the rejection was the lack of a step down in height. It was due to replace the red brick buildings between Millharbour and Pepper St bridge.
Future of Mellish Street Portacabins and public meeting tomorrow Tuesday
The last piece of Council owned land in Canary Wharf ward which could be used for public use are the portacabins on Mellish Street (see map below). It used to be a nursery and then an NHS GP surgery.
It is the building occupied today by the Docklands Community Organisation (DCO) and its main use is as a place to pray and community centre. Although widely described as a mosque including on the Councils own website technically it does not fit the criteria for a mosque although its main entrance is divided between separate Male and Female doors. The car park is rented out during the week to generate income.
The Council are proposing to replace the centre with a four storey block containing 30 new apartments AND a new community centre on the ground floor. The Council would build it using Council money and the homes would all be affordable at similar rents to other new build affordable homes in the area (see attached briefing note for more information and rent levels).
A lot of the information circulating on WhatsApp, 38Degrees or leaflets is incorrect about this development.
There is a public consultation drop in event tomorrow Tuesday 5th December 2017 at 2pm to 7pm at Strafford Friendship Club, 40 Strafford Street, Isle of Dogs, E14 8LT where you can get more information.
The Councils own documentation says the population of Canary Wharf ward will increase from 13,565 to 33,013 people by March 2024, that is an extra 19,448 people in 8 years. In that context what is the best use for this land?
A new community centre is being built at the Westferry Printworks and In April 2016 I am on public record as asking the GLA “Councillor Wood has requested that the …….community centre should be suitable for Muslim worship” as I know some will attempt to portray this post as me being anti-Muslim (for the record I am an atheist).
There is also space available now in the red brick buildings at the end of Mellish Street by Pepper St bridge since the planning application was rejected and other new community spaces coming up in the Galliard Millharbour developments (as well as other locations). Although we will need a lot more.
The question is what the best use for this space, what are our relative priorities are as a community and how do we ensure that our Muslim neighbours continue to have a place to pray. But 43.4% residents of this ward in 2011 had either no religion or have not declared a religion. Given changes since 2011 both nationally and locally I expect that % to now be over 50%. 29.6% are Christian and 19.5% are Muslim (there is no split between Shia and Sunni faiths). Hindus represent about 5%.
Millharbour is the densest small place in the UK according to the Office for National Statistics.
If we build new community space it should be accessible by the whole community whether that is Judo on a Tuesday night, Muslim prayer on a Friday afternoon or Tango on a Saturday.
So the questions I am asking in the attached survey (where responses will be anonymous) are;
1. No change option – keep the portacabins and allow the DCO to replace them with a permanent facility as they want - no homes on site
2. Build as proposed a 4 storey block with 30 new affordable apartment and a new community space on the ground floor
3. Build a 4 storey block but with residential homes only and no community space (creating space for approximately 40 homes)
4. Make it a green space by removing the portacabins, combined park and allotment space (expanding current garden on west side)
5. Make it a children’s playground (there are none on Millharbour)
6. A combined green space with childrens play equipment (combining 4 & 5)
7. Make it a nursery as it used to be
8. Reserve the site for other uses like NHS Surgery, police station, sports facility etc
Just to make clear that the money used to build the homes would still be available to spend elsewhere by for example buying new build homes nearby.
There is £37 million in the Council bank account earnt from developments in Canary Wharf ward that could pay for wider public use.
Please fill in the survey, it takes less then a minute