Deputy mayor overrules borough to allow 5,000-home scheme on east London industrial site

London's deputy mayor for planning has allowed plans for a 5,000-home mixed-use development on a 19-hectare industrial site in the Royal Docks, overruling the London Borough of Newham's decision to refuse the plans.

Deputy mayor for planning, Jules Pipe
Deputy mayor for planning, Jules Pipe

Deputy mayor Jules Pipe issued his decision on the hybrid application for the Thameside West scheme in Silvertown, which co-locates residential and industrial uses, last week.

According to a Greater London Authority (GLA) report, the scheme would provide 5,000 homes, 19,400 square metres of employment floorspace, a new local centre, 7,368 square metres of flexible retail and leisure space.

Detailed consent was sought for the first phase of the scheme, comprising 401 homes and 3,608 square metres of "flexible industrial floorspace", with outline consent for the remainder.

The applicants are Silvertown Homes and Greater London Authority Land and Property.

The GLA report says the site is in the mayor's Royal Docks and Beckton Riverside Opportunity Area. It added that the majority of the site is the subject of Transport for London’s development consent order (DCO) for the Silvertown Tunnel, which was approved by the transport secretary in May 2018.

Newham Council had resolved to refuse the application at a planning committee meeting in November last year.

According to a council committe report, the authority's grounds for refusal, made in line with a recommendation from planning officers, included that the proposed development had "failed to adequately address the principles of masterplanning with particular attention to the successful integration of the scheme with the wider public area and the transition between, and neighbourliness of different uses both within the site and in relation to adjacent areas".

It also said the scheme had "failed to demonstrate good growth and infrastructure sufficiency" and would "erode the existing industrial quality" of a designated strategic industrial location (SIL).

There were also concerns about the proposed numbers of studio flat units, which, the report said, "prejudices the ability to stabilise the community and reduce population churn".

Other grounds for refusal included concerns about the provision of affordable units, design, density, transport impacts and daylight impacts on neighbouring properties.

The application was subsequently called in by the mayor of London, and Pipe has now issued a decision to approve the development.

The GLA report said the scheme's "proposed masterplan-led approach to the comprehensive redevelopment of an historically under-utilised, brownfield, riverfront, Opportunity Area Site, including public sector land would deliver a well-designed, optimised, mixed-use scheme next to a new DLR station".

It added that the proposed development "demonstrates Good Growth principles by building a strong, healthy and inclusive community; making the best use of the site; delivering the homes Londoners need; growing the economy; and increasing efficiency and resilience".

The report said the phasing of the masterplan "provides for the delivery of the required transport and social infrastructure when needed, and restricts development until it is delivered".

With regards to the use of industrial land, the report said that the the proposals "take a masterplan-led approach with managed release and re-provision of high-quality industrial capacity, through intensification of SIL-type space in a standalone building; and lighter industrial uses in a co-location approach beneath residential uses".

On affordable housing provision, the report said that proposed development would provide a 39 per cent level of affordable homes by habitable room.

This had increased from 37 per cent by habitable room when considered by Newham Council's planning committee, the report said.

The GLA report said officers were "satisfied that the affordable housing is the maximum viable level at this time".

However, it added that "early stage, lack of progress and mid-term viability reviews would allow any surplus to be used to provide additional affordable units on-site".

Pipe said: "This development will deliver 5,000 new homes – including around 1,000 at London Affordable Rent and 700 shared ownership – on an under-used area of brownfield land next to a new DLR station.

"This is exactly the kind of site we need to develop if we are to build the homes Londoners need while protecting the green belt. As such, having examined all the evidence available to me, I have decided to approve these plans."

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