EAST END WATERWAY GROUP
NEWSLETTER MARCH 2015
LLDC LOCAL PLAN 2015 - 2031 EXAMINED IN PUBLIC 3 - 13 MARCH
LLDC PLANNING COMMITTEE TO DETERMINE WALLIS ROAD APPLICATION 24 MARCH
The LLDC Local Plan was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate at the end of November 2014 and Ms Jil Kingaby conducted public hearings on seven days between 3rd and 13th March. The Inspector is now reviewing all the evidence and preparing her report for submission to the LLDC in May 2015.
As part of that process there will shortly be a six-week consultation on proposed amendments to the Local Plan. The LLDC will then send the proposed amendments and comments directly to the Inspector.
Your correspondent made a long representation on 3rd March on behalf of the East End Waterway Group. Apart from a preamble, the printed version of the representation is set out at the end of this newsletter, in 16 numbered paragraphs. Paragraphs 2, 6, 7, 11 and 13 refer obliquely to the currently threatened non-designated heritage assets at Swan Wharf, Dace Road, and on the south side of Wallis Road.
To summarise, the main problem for all non-designated heritage assets in the two conservation areas is that under Policy 1.1.3 (see paras 2 and 6) their future use is only for employment; and under the LLDC's flexible economic strategy they can and will be demolished if some of their employment space is provided in a new building on site or elsewhere (see paras 6, 7 and 11)
Thanks to Richard Lee (Just Space) and Lucy Rogers (East End Preservation Society), LLDC officers agreed to consider proposed written additions and amendments to Objective 3 and Policy SP.3. EEWG's Proposed Additions and Amendments to Local Plan were supported by Just Space and East End Preservation Society.
The LLDC issued a written response to changes to Objective 3 and Policy SP.3 (proposed by Just Space and EEWG). It considered that no further changes were needed to Objective 3 and made a few changes to Policy SP.3 to accommodate some of the Just Space proposals. With respect to the EEWG proposals (see paras 2 and 3) the written response states that "... these changes are not considered to be appropriate as they significantly diverge from the recommendations made by English Heritage and would place unreasonable restrictions on development proposals contrary to paragraph 173 of the NPPF".
On 11 March, the LLDC issued suggested amendments to Policy 1.1.3 and paragraph 10.5
Policy 1.1.3 to read: "Restore and reuse heritage assets for employment or other uses)".
Add the following to para 10.5: "The balance of uses within proposals for mixed-use developments will be assessed on the basis of the overall viability of a proposal and any other overriding factors".
These amendments were presumably made in response to EEWG representation paras 6 and 13. In reply to a question about other necessary changes to protect non-designated heritage assets, an LLDC officer replied that such assets were protected by Policy BN.16 and Policy 1.4, and that there was no need for changes to Policy B.1 (see para 6) because "heritage assets are protected".
It is to be hoped that the Inspector will consider the LLDC suggested amendments and give careful consideration to EEWG's proposed amendments to Policy B.1 in Proposed Additions and Amendments to Local Plan. As you will read, these proposed amendments are based on the important distinction between "non-protected industrial buildings" and "non-designated heritage assets".
Paras 14, 15 and 16 of the representation cover EEWG's criticisms of Local Plan policies relating to historic waterways. By way of a reply on this issue, an officer informed the hearing that the LLDC was working with the Environment Agency and the Canal & River Trust on a waterways strategy document. A request for EEWG and other to be involved was not particularly well received. EEWG believes that, in the absence of such a strategy being included in the Local Plan, EEWG and other interested groups must have the opportunity to fully participate in the production of a waterway strategy for the Legacy Area.
On Wednesday, 11 March, your correspondent participated in a long debate about Sub Area Policies in Hackney Wick and Fish Island. Also participating: Malcolm Tucker of Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society, Richard Brown of Affordable Wick and a Just Space representative. Site allocations and proposed bridges over the Hertford Union Canal and Hackney Cut were discussed in some detail with LLDC officers and planning consultants.
In the meantime and despite LLDC assurances that "heritage assets are protected" the WALLIS ROAD APPLICATION (14/00387/FUL) will be determined by the LLDC Planning Committee at its meeting on Tuesday 24 March, with the LLDC recommending approval.
Your correspondent has arranged to address the committee and hopes that as many concerned individuals as possible will attend the meeting, which starts at 6 pm at the
LLDC offices, Level 10, 1 Stratford Place, Montfichet Road, E20 1EJ.
For further information about Wallis Road, and photographs, please see January and February newsletters.
EXAMINATION IN PUBLIC OF LLDC LOCAL PLAN 2015 TO 2031
EAST END WATERWAY GROUP REPRESENTATION
MADE AT THE HEARING SESSION ON 3 MARCH 2015
MATTER 4: BUILT AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
||The LOCAL PLAN is not sound with regard to the historic environment: neither its buildings and structures nor its waterways. Paragraph 2.4 on HISTORY is incorrect and seriously insufficient. For instance, there is no mention of the fact that the Lower Lea Valley was the largest waterside industrial area in London when London was the largest industrial city in the world and the greatest port in the world. Given that there are now very few surviving historic industrial buildings in the Lower Lea Valley, the LLDC has a duty to promote a full understanding of their significance and value in the regeneration of the Legacy Area.
||We note that it is now proposed to add "the historic environment" to Objective 3 but it has also to be added to Policy SP.3 and fully inform redrafted Policy BN.1 and BN.2. Apart from being in the Glossary, "heritage-led regeneration" is only mentioned in the Sub-Area 1 part of the Local Plan and in BN.16. A heritage-led regeneration policy, which requires the full use of heritage assets, needs to be fully incorporated in SP.3, BN.1 and BN.2. Restoration and reuse of buildings of heritage value is a clearly stated component of Policy 1.1 but it is currently being ignored by applicants in the two conservation areas to which the policy applies, and four non-designated heritage assets are at risk of total, substantial or partial demolition. For the policy to be properly implemented it clearly needs to be incorporated in the overarching policies SP.3 and BN.1. And "buildings of heritage value" must be referred to as "buildings which have been identified as non-designated heritage assets".
Statements such as "utilising heritage assets to shape local industry"(Obj 3), and "maintains and promotes local distinctiveness" (SP.3) are too vague and are probably being interpreted as incorporating parts of a heritage asset in new developments, or as the desirability of referencing heritage features in new design as in Policy 1.2.1 (p. 153) and para. 13.2 bullet 3 (p. 208).
||The statement "supports the delivery of the Sub Area priorities" (SP.3.7) is too vague and also meaningless as there is nothing about this in BN.1.
||Heritage-led regeneration which requires the full use of heritage assets also needs to be incorporated in Objective 1 (p.19). Cultural and creative sectors flourish in historic industrial buildings, and their retention and reuse provides a real sense of place and community pride. The promotion of East London as a visitor and tourist destination should be about more than the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and requires: the House Mill at Three Mills to be fully restored and opened to the public as a working museum; the full restoration and reuse of all historic industrial buildings; the maintenance of historic waterways and their associated infrastructure; the establishment of a two-way waterbus service for residents and tourists on the six-mile waterway ring in Tower Hamlets (to integrate with existing services on the Bow Back Rivers).
||For heritage-led regeneration to work there must be reference to re-use of historic buildings in POLICY SD.1 on SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT and a Conservation Review Panel (to help achieve high-quality conservation and reuse of heritage assets), in addition to the Quality Review Panel, which helps achieve high-quality design in new buildings and outdoor spaces (para 6.9).
||The historic environment within the Legacy Area must also be protected from the LLDC's flexible economic strategy which has allowed and will continue to allow the demolition of non-designated heritage assets when their employment space or part of it is provided in new developments. Policy B.1.5 on employment "outside the clusters" refers to "potential reuse of buildings of value for employment" (B.1.5(d)) when Policy 1.1.3 clearly states that (all) buildings of heritage value in Sub Area 1 are to be restored and reused for employment uses. The LLDC answer to question 2 (Matter 7 Sub Area 1) explains how the Hackney Wick Other Industrial Location was abolished. Whatever the justification for this release/de-designation it has allowed an applicant to propose the demolition of two non-designated heritage assets and the partial demolition of a third asset which should have been fully restored and reused for (continued) employment use.
||That there is no real intention to implement Policy 1.1.3 is also clearly demonstrated by Policy 1.1.1, which simply requires the maintenance of the overall amount of existing employment space; and by the statement "where the reuse of buildings of value shall be considered positively" (4.14) which implies that there will be cases where the reuse (or continued use) is not considered positively. As in the case of the defunct Hackney Wick OIL and in the threatened Wick Lane and Crown Close OIL, "where introduction of residential may be appropriate" (4.13 note 9). This means that heritage buildings currently used for employment are likely to be demolished for mixed-use development. In fact, the WICK LANE AND CROWN CLOSE OIL is shown on Figure 3 as part of the MIXED-USE GROWTH AREA.
||The OIL contains five heritage buildings (as shown on Figure 30 p. 158). But, together with the non-listed heritage buildings shown north of the Hackney Wick CA, they are not described in LLDC documents. Consequently, their value will not be recognised and they will not be "restored and reused". Especially as they are excluded from Policy 1.4.1. Figure 30 needs corrections and improvements to be sound. Listed buildings should be shown separately and named. All the other heritage buildings/structures should be referred to as non-designated heritage assets and individually named on an extended key; and those not described in the CA appraisals should be named and described in an annex to amended Figure 30; and Policy 1.4.1 amended accordingly.
||The north-eastern part of the proposed extended Fish Island CA was removed as a result of a landowner being allowed to address the LLDC Development Committee (Report to Board item 17 30 April 2014). However, there is no justification whatsoever for three buildings in particular not to be shown on Figure 30. They should be shown as non-designated heritage assets on the amended Figure 30; and be named and described in the Local Plan. The three buildings are Stour Space, the c.1900 former Vulcanite factory (repaired and reinforced c.1953), and the c.1953 engineering workshop - both at Vittoria Wharf, Stour Road.
||The historic walls on the corner of the Hertford Union Canal and the Hackney Cut were deliberately and drastically reduced in height, but the remnant with the two oil pipeline terminals should be retained and shown on the amended Figure 30. Protection was removed from the historic walls between Wallis Road and White Post Lane; but the few short sections to be retained in an approved development should be shown on the amended Figure 30.
||Policy BN 16 PRESERVING OR ENHANCING HERITAGE ASSETS must distinguish between buildings and structures which are designated heritage assets and non-designated heritage assets. In para 6.47 we read that the four conservation areas were "designated to preserve and enhance the special architectural or historic interest of the heritage assets located within those areas". Unfortunately, the LLDC policies which should be protecting and conserving the non-designated heritage assets in the Hackney Wick CA and the Fish Island & White Post Lane CA are designed to allow their disappearance. Under this LOCAL PLAN, a non-designated heritage asset is protected so long as its site is not wanted for a mixed-use development. Both conservation areas are in Figure 3's MIXED-USE GROWTH AREA; and "mixed-use development" is defined in the glossary without any reference to historic buildings, their restoration or reuse. BN16 and all the LLDC's overarching and sub-area policies have to be redrafted to ensure that heritage-led regeneration becomes a reality; and the direct threats to non-designated heritage assets (from the LLDC's flexible economic strategy and the requirement to maintain the overall amount of existing employment floor space) are amended to allow the restoration and reuse of buildings which have been identified as non-designated heritage assets. The LLDC has to empower its planning officers so that they and applicants are obliged to treat the unlisted buildings in the two CAs as listed buildings.
||In conclusion, 6.48 states that "Heritage Assets are identified within the Sub Area sections of this Local Plan alongside further policies concerning their preservation and enhancement". Heritage Assets are not identified "within the Sub Area sections"; and whilst Policy 1.1 includes the "restoration and reuse of historic buildings for employment" it also allows their demolition, so long as employment space is maintained.
||It would be interesting to know why historic buildings can only be used for employment. As most of them are well-built C19/early-C20 industrial buildings they are eminently adaptable for a very wide range of employment uses. However, some of them are also capable of being converted to residential use and EEWG does not understand why this capability is being deliberately ignored by the LLDC.
||Policy B.N2: CREATING DISTINCTIVE WATERWAY ENVIRONMENTS is unsound as it fails to distinguish between the altered waterways in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the historic waterways to the west of the park; and does not contain any policies to maintain the historic waterways. As well as the 2004 SURVEY OF BUILT HERITAGE RESOURCES, the Olympic Delivery Authority commissioned a survey of waterways in the Lower Lea Valley which recorded all the 1930s concrete flood walls, wharf walls and loading places. Most of these hard-edged waterside features on the Bow Back Rivers were removed during the construction of the Olympic Park - a landscaped park with unnatural waterways. Unnatural in the sense that, as a result of the 2001 Three Mills Lock, they are no longer tidal and a high water level is maintained at all times.
||Having created these "distinctive waterway environments" in the Olympic Park, the LLDC has an even greater duty to protect the remaining hard-edged urban waterways in the western part of the Legacy Area - River Lea and Hackney Cut (River Lee Navigation) and Hertford Union Canal. The Navigation and the Hertford Union Canal are heritage assets (Policy 1.4.2) and there should be policies which do not require or allow the removal of historic wharf walls to facilitate soft waterside planting. This was required by English Nature at two developments in central Fish Island - Omega Works, Roach Road and H. Forman & Sons, Stour Road, where mid-19th-century Kentish ragstone wharf walls were removed. We note that para 6.12 refers to the "naturalisation of the banks" (and "the need to integrate local heritage features"). This balanced approach is appropriate for the altered waterways in the Olympic Park but historic waterway fabric and infrastructure must be protected on the hard-edged urban waterways or historic waterways in the western part of the Legacy Area.
||The title of Policy BN.2 should be extended to include ... AND MAINTAINING HISTORIC WATERWAYS
"... waterway(s) in the Olympic Park" should be added to BN.2.1
"with minimal removal of historic waterway fabric" should be added to BN.2.3 4 5 and 6
"at Bromley-by-Bow Free Wharf and other suitable locations" should also be added to BN.2.5
New policy BN.2.8:
"Maintain the historic waterways in the western part of the Legacy Area - their associated wharf walls, locks, footbridges, historic buildings, towpaths and retaining walls"
N.B. Instead of "maintain" it would have been better to use the term "preserve or enhance"
New Policy BN.2.9:
"Actively promote hybrid-engine-powered passenger and freight transport on the waterways, including the removal of waste (for recycling or disposal)"
New Policy BN.2.10:
"Actively promote the establishment of a two-way waterbus service for residents and tourists on the six-mile waterway ring in Tower Hamlets, to integrate with existing or improved services on the Bow Back Rivers"
New Policy BN.2.11:
"Provide waterbus stops (with simple signage) on the Hackney Cut (south of White Post Lane Bridge) and on the River Lea (south of Old Ford Locks, north of Bow Bridge, Three Mills Landing Stage and south of Bow Locks)"
New Policy BN.2.12:
"Provide suitably located mooring places for barges carrying freight and waste"
New Policy BN.2.13:
"Provide an overnight mooring basin, on the east bank of the River Lea opposite the Olympic Stadium, for waterbuses, freight and waste barges; with recharging facilities for batteries"
||Policy T.10: USING THE WATERWAYS FOR TRANSPORT should be amended to take account of the need to preserve or enhance the historic waterways.
||Figure 14: WATERWAYS AND INDICATIVE MOORINGS. Impossible to distinguish between trade and residential moorings. Bromley-by-Bow Free Wharf not shown. Visitor moorings in Sweetwater not possible as there are two very large water mains along the east side of the Hackney Cut towpath and just below the surface.
East End Waterway Group