Put London Dock cash into Wapping not Whitechapel!

IMG_4235With the massive News International site in Wapping set for redevelopment, our ward is in the midst of huge change. Over the next fifteen years, 1800 homes, a secondary school and 20 000 square metres of commercial space will be built in a new quarter dubbed ‘London Dock’.

In January, this was approved by the votes Labour members and the Lutfur Rahman supporters. Both Conservative members of the committee spoke and voted against the application—while we support the regeneration of this corner of our ward, particularly plans to bring heritage sites like the Pennington Street warehouse to life, there are too many unanswered questions.

How will our streets take the increased volume of traffic? Will public services in Wapping be boosted relative to the number of new residents? Will air quality and congestion on the Highway jeopardise plans for the new school? Will the main tower’s height have too big an impact on St Katharine Docks?

We will continue to press Tower Hamlets since we know their track record is so poor—they have been cramming ever more badly planned skyscrapers on the Isle of Dogs without increasing facilities. We want better for Wapping.

We are also asking the right questions about the cash. Tower Hamlets will get a big slug of money from the London Dock that should be recycled into Wapping. So far the signs are not good. Transport for London rightly wanted money put into upgrading Shadwell DLR as they predict a big increase in passenger numbers but no cash has been allocated. Meanwhile we have been probing council officers about £100 000 that has been put aside for ‘offsite community facilities’.

What does ’offsite’ mean? Anywhere up to Whitechapel Road we have been told. We can think of all kinds of ways £100 000 could improve Wapping—fixing bad roads, boosting local facilities, improving our open spaces. A community centre for Whitechapel residents is not one of them…

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