Newsletter - 17th January 2022
from Councillor Andrew Wood, Canary Wharf ward
& now a candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets

Dear all,

Welcome to the first email newsletter of 2022, as well as the first in a very long time. The plan is to write these every couple of weeks, they will start with the most urgent news item at the top, then degenerate into political stuff at the bottom :) As some of you know I normally use the Facebook group I administer 'Canary Wharf & Isle of Dogs residents' to communicate as well as Twitter but this email is for those of you not on FB or who prefer to read a summary every few weeks.

If you do not wish to receive this newsletter please unsubscribe at the bottom. But also forward this email to whomever you think may appreciate this. They can get their own copy by emailing me with the word newsletter in the subject or clicking on the online link.

Subjects of this newsletter include:

  1. Ballymore planning application 51 storey tower and a single staircase  - what went wrong
  2. Tall Building Supplementary Planning Guidance - where the 56 new tall buildings in the E14 area should go - with a public meeting online tomorrow on the 18th of January 
  3. Tower Hamlets Council website failure - they did not know the domain expired on the 27th of December
  4. Running to be Mayor of Tower Hamlets - why
I hope you find this useful, more information and how to contact me are on my website here;
or you can call/text me on   07710 486 873
tweet me at   @andrewwwood17
or email me at
Ballymore Cuba/Manilla Street 51 storey 421 home residential tower PA/20/02128 and one staircase

You were supposed to get this email last week with a link to a webcast so that you could watch the Strategic Development Committee meeting which was supposed to make a decision on this building. 

But at the last minute, the meeting was canceled. Because as the London Fire Brigade said here

“We do have concerns that the design submitted does not provide suitable and convenient means of escape and associated evacuation strategy for all building users.

“In buildings with a single escape route, we would expect the developer to have their own fire engineers provide a full review to show the resilience in the event of a fire and this does not appear to have been carried out."

This last point is rather surprising as the Council's report said a Fire Strategy document had been supplied in January 2021 but neither I nor others could find it online, see the link here to all of the documents. It was though loaded onto the Council website on Friday! I will comment later about what it says. 

The agenda and a summary report is here 
Council officers are recommending it be approved as per normal. This was despite the London Fire Brigade submitting no comment to the application which in retrospect was unwise. In the future, they should only take decisions to the committee once the LFB has expressed a view. 

The Guardian newspaper ran a story about it only having one staircase despite it being 51 storeys high click here 

This was picked up widely across the media so there was a lot of coverage about it last week.

Not picked up by the media but to my mind just as serious as the single staircase was that this new building would only be 12.1 meters away from the new 30 Marsh Wall planning application (see below), from the ground floor to the 48th floor. The Councils Local Plan recommends a minimum distance of 18 meters mainly to avoid being able to look into each other's homes. But this also raises a fire safety issue, if there was a fire and people had open windows in each building could a fire or burning embers etc travel 12.1 meters to the other building?

I submitted a detailed objection to the application, a PDF copy is in this link here

The other issue I was going to raise was about disabled parking. The London Plan says 10% of homes should have access to a disabled parking bay. 3% in the initial design and then 7% detailed in the backup.

This application only proposed 2% on the street nearby which is already crowded (more on this later as well).
CGI below shows the proposed building (with a red box around the 51 number above it), I added the other numbers showing the heights in storeys of complete buildings red and in the planning system blue. 
The picture below that shows that this building will be 12.1 meters apart from the proposed new 30 Marsh Wall between the ground floor and the 48th floor (the height of 30 Marsh Wall)
The Council's Local Plan says  “a distance of approximately 18 metres between windows of habitable rooms reduces inter-visibility to a degree acceptable to most people”
These CGI pictures from the 3D model are reasonably up to date but still include the now rejected larger 2018 Westferry Printworks application (with its 5th tower) and the old Helix development at the McDonalds site not the new 3 tower student housing scheme
Sunlight/daylight analysis shows the loss of light by window in surrounding buildings  - the Ballymore built Wardian west tower will be the most impacted!
Tall Buildings Supplementary Planning Document Consultation
The consultation by Tower Hamlets Council is from the 17th December 2021 to Friday 4th March 2022

See details here

It suggests to developers where to put new tall buildings including suggesting specific sites (see maps below): 
  • 45 new buildings on the Isle of Dogs & South Poplar - 18 to the south of CW plus 27 to the north in Poplar & Billingsgate + those already in the planning system
  • 11 in the Lower Lea Valley - in Aberfeldy
  • 4 City Fringe - 2 in Aldgate, 2 next to Royal London Hospital
  • 2 Central - in Queen Mary area - this is the biggest area in TH & parts have excellent transport links

90% in the E14 area = 56 out of 62 buildings 

Once again the clear focus is on a few relatively small areas, and as you can see from the last picture below from a TfL website measuring public transport access not even areas with excellent transport (Aberfeldy & parts of the Isle of Dogs do not have great public transport access). 

In fact, the document tries quite hard to restrict tall buildings across most of Tower Hamlets except in a few areas. 

It also suggests a range of new policies and planning guidance but not on how the buildings should work nor fire safety. 

It has the following online meeting (how to access are in the link above):
  • Tuesday 18 January 2022 (5.00-6.30pm) - Isle of Dogs and South Poplar Sub-Area
  • Thursday 20 January 2022 (5.00-6.30pm) - Lower Lea Valley Sub-Area
  • Tuesday 25 January 2022 (5.00-6.30pm) - City Fringe Sub-Area
  • Thursday (External link)27 January 2022 (5.00-6.30pm) - Central Sub-Area
(Alternatively, you can email and they will send you a Microsoft Teams calendar invite).

Officers will also be hosting 'drop-in' sessions where project officers will be available to answer any questions or queries you might have on the project. The 'drop-in' sessions will be held during the following times:

Online drop-in session on Thursday 3 February (12.00-3.00pm) - Please email to book a 15-minute slot to speak with an officer.
(Subject to Government guidance) In-person drop-in session on Tuesday 22 February (3.00-5.30pm) 

Tall building AOD heights in ascending order (meters and then storeys) for context

See the Potential Tall Buildings in the dotted line Opportunity Areas for where the Council suggest new tall buildings should go
From TfL PTAL WebCat 2031 forecast
Public Transport Accessibility Level (PTAL) how good your access is to different types of public transport (does not measure how full it is)
Where 6b best (red) and 1a worst (purple)
The darker the red colour the better the transport access
The green areas then blue and finally purple the worse it is 
Click here to do your own analysis of PTAL
Tower Hamlets Council website failure

On the 27th December 2021, the Tower Hamlets Council website domain expired,, it had first been created in 2003. The email warning the Council of this in advance went to an unattended email address managed by an external contractor no longer responsible.
Resetting the domain can be a 5-minute job and may only cost a few pounds (as names are restricted) 
But it took several days for it to fail so on Monday 3rd I could not access it. Later it emerged that external emails were also affected.
It took until the Wednesday 5th to reset the website and restore functionality.
So the website may have been down for between 3 and 5 days?

The two key issues were:
1. Nobody had diarised the need to reset the expiration date so the Council did not even know what the problem was initially
2. There was no backup plan for if the website went down - for example, messages on social media or email about other methods of contact like the phone number and some systems were still up as run by contractors. I have not still seen a statement about what people do if, for example, people got parking fines on the 4th?

Running to be Mayor of Tower Hamlets
I have officially declared that I will be a candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets on the 5th May 2022. The announcement is below plus some questions answered.

I do say in it "Am I going to win? Probably not, but that is not why I am doing this."

But you may find interesting 3 polls done on Facebook in December in 3 different groups.
I do not pretend at all that these are proper polls: they are not representative, weighted and come from groups that have an inbuilt bias.
At most, they are an indication of levels of interest of people who spend a lot of time talking about issues in Tower Hamlets on Facebook. Most people don't but then a majority of eligible voters also do not vote in local elections (which I regret).
But I was still genuinely surprised at how poorly John Biggs did as the incumbent Mayor

I set up this new Facebook group to discuss policy and other ideas, called A Vision for Tower Hamlets :)

More on this later
From now until the 5th of May 2022 all my posts and comments are promoted by me Andrew Wood, 12 Neptune Court, Homer Drive, London, E14 3UQ
As an independent candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets & Councillor for Canary Wharf ward
This covers the imprint requirements recommended by the Electoral Commission
My website has more contact details
Sent to you by Councillor Andrew Wood, 12 Neptune Court, Homer Drive, London E14 3UQ
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Councillor Andrew Wood · 12, Neptune Court · Homer Drive · London, London E14 3UQ · United Kingdom

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