Both visible uses would “sustain and enhance the significance of (the retained) heritage assets” (NPPF para. 185a) and be “ consistent with their long-term conservation” (NPPF para. 185a). And, in addition to providing public benefits, the guide frames on their in-ground tanks would continue to make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the Regent’s Canal Conservation Area 9.
1 The columns and standards in the circular guide frames stand on top of circular tank walls, which are very wide and deep and form the sides of the in-ground tanks. The bases of the columns in the No. 2 guide frame and the box-lattice standards in the No. 5 guide frame are bolted to the projecting heads of long holding-down bolts, which are embedded in the upper parts of the circular tank walls.
Dismantlement of the guide frames would require the heads of the holding-down bolts to be cut. This would sever the connections between the frames and their existing foundations, which, like the frames, are incredibly strong cylindrical structures. According to the developers’ preferred methodology, the in-ground tanks would be replaced by pile-driven foundations so that without its original in-ground brick tank, the No. 2 gasholder would no longer be the second-oldest surviving gasholder in the world. To avoid this, new holding-down bolts could be inserted and secured in the upper parts of the existing brick tank wall (and in the upper parts of the No. 5’s concrete tank wall). This method would be less expensive than needlessly demolishing the in-ground tanks for new pile-driven foundations.
For more information about the significance of the No.2 and No.5 gasholders at Bethnal Green and their positive contribution to the character and appearance of LBTH’s Regent’s Canal Conservation Area, see Appendix C (pages 32 and 33) in the Feasibility Study.
2 In the case of the No.2 columnar guide frame, the heads of the holding-down bolts are concealed in the hollow cast-iron pedestals (to maintain the ‘classical’ appearance of the superimposed hollow cast-iron columns). The sixteen ‘classical’ pedestals are rare and surviving examples of their type: accessing their hollow interiors to remove and subsequently replace nuts on the concealed heads of the holding-down bolts would be very difficult and likely to damage parts of the brittle cast-iron pedestals. This was not a problem at King’s Cross, as all four relocated columnar guide frames have holding-down bolts with easily accessible exposed heads.
The almost invisible joint between the hollow cylindrical sections making up the superimposed columns would probably have to be reinforced (like the columns at King’s Cross) with mild steel ‘bands’. These would seriously harm their more ‘classical’ appearance, especially in the case of the slightly bulging Doric columns on the pedestals.
The box-lattice standards in the No. 5’s wrought-iron lattice guide frame may also need to be reinforced before or during re-erection. And, according to the developers’ preferred methodology, both guide frames at Bethnal Green would have to be re-bolted and re-erected on expensive new foundations.
3 LBTH response to Main Matter 10 August 2018
4 Feasibility Study pages 9, 10, 11, 42 and 43
5 section 10.4.1 in LBTH/LP/012 ( Main Matter 10 August 2018 )
The % of affordable housing will almost certainly be changed when the Bethnal Green team at St William Homes arranges for a new viability assessment to support their planning application to Tower Hamlets Council. Unlike all the other Local Plan documents relating to the so-called Marian Place Gas Works (Bethnal Green Holder Station – see page 6 and Appendix C in the Feasibility Study), the ‘additional’ viability testing’ has not been made available by Tower Hamlets Council. The independent programme manager requested a copy for EEWG but there was no response from the Local Plan team.
Obviously, the low percentage of affordable housing (due to the high cost of ‘retention’ by dismantlement for off-site refurbishment of the guide frames and subsequent re-erection on expensive new foundations) would be unacceptable to Councillors and residents in Tower Hamlets. As such, the ‘additional viability testing’ by BNP Paribas Real Estate was carried out to justify the demolition of the two historic gasholders in the Regent’s Canal Conservation Area, which was assumed by BNP Paribas Real Estate when they carried out the deeply-flawed viability testing for Scheme 14 Marian Place Gas Works (Feasibility Study pages 5-9 and page 12 for detailed comments on the deeply-flawed ‘additional viability testing’).
Less biased viability testing (December 2017) and additional viability testing (August 2018) would have included testing for EEWG’s October 2017 proposal for the in situ retention and conservation and reuse of the two historic gasholders for housing and open space (supported in October 2017 by Friends of the Regent’s Canal, Regent’s Network, SAVE Britain’s Heritage, East London History Society and two individuals).
6 Feasibility Study page 5, Appendix A and Appendix B
7 Feasibility Study pages 16 to 26
8 As at King’s Cross, the service charge for the residents in the (non-affordable) annular block of flats in the No. 5 gasholder’s guide frame would include payment for the insurance and maintenance of both guide frames, so that Tower Hamlets Council could maintain the public open space (in and around the No. 2 columnar guide frame) without the additional burden of insuring and maintaining the No. 2 columnar guide frame.