BLUF Local News: London

Backstreet - another win

At last night's Strategic Development Committee, we won again. For the second time this year, the committee threw out plans to redevelop the site of which Backstreet is a part, by 6 votes to 1.

That's the good news. But what does it really mean? It's hard to say, because after the last meeting in February - see The battle for Backstreet - we certainly didn't expect to be going through the same thing two months later. Hopefully this time, after another rejection, the developer will have to do a lot more work to try and get things passed.

It was hard to judge from the questions and comments during the meeting how things were going; I wasn't questioned this time, after my two minute objection speech. Also speaking was another local resident, and a local councillor. I can't stress how important it is to make work with other objectors - that way you can make sure nothing is missed, and present a united front.

Ultimately the reasons for refusal were the same as the previous time; only the chair of the committee thought that they had been addressed adequately by the revised plan.

Round three?

It's worth nothing that as well as stopping the development again, it also appeared that there was a slight bit of extra ground given on the part of the developer with regard to The Backstreet. This may be useful if (or more likely when) a future application succeeds. Chiefly this is a slight alteration to the notice period. Last time round they committed to giving Backstreet twelve months' notice from the grant of planning permission, and that now appears to be twelve months' notice of starting work on the site. It's not much, but it does add extra breathing space.

And clearly there is concern from the councillors about relocation strategy, and if that will be meaningful or not. It was suggested that, if the proposal were to go ahead, there would be reporting conditions including. In other words, the developer would have to help with relocation, and could possibly face enforcement action, if it were considered not to be holding up its end of the bargain.

In a city like London, it's almost inevitable that we'll have to keep expending energy on fighting applications like this. But as we've seen - twice now - it can be done.

Thanks to all who wrote to object to the application, and especially to those who came along to the meeting.

Here, for the record, is my two minute speech

Two months ago this development was rejected, because of size, density, servicing, loss of community facility, poor design and air quality. It seems little has been done to address those matters.

The tower is indeed shorter. But it will still loom over the park, the bridge and the junction. Far from adding "visual interest" I fear the use of different colours on different parts will just look a mess; and Mile End doesn't need another Lincoln Plaza.

There are serious issues with air quality, and few details of mitigation measures, beyond some tenants going without balconies. The proposed CHP plant, when new, will already have an emissions rate exceeding GLA limits.

Density has been reduced but at over 1400, it's still well over twice the sustainable residential quality in the London Plan. It achieves that trick while providing just eight homes with poor air quality for affordable rent.

The applicants make much of their report on servicing, but the need for a traffic management plan is going to be tricky for residents, and the suggestion that there are other bays 100 metres down the road is unlikely to satisfy tenants. And there is still inadequate provision for disabled parking.

With regard to The Backstreet, I must stress the unique nature of this club, which has operated peacefully for 32 years. There is nothing like it in the UK, and few similar places elsewhere. Once again section 8.221 claims that the operator of the club is seeking to cease trading. That is wrong, and if permission is granted a substantial relocation strategy must be agreed.

I'd also like to note that when the Backyard comedy club in Bethnal Green was redeveloped, a new club was built beneath the Travelodge.

The revised plans come up short. Short on air quality, short on servicing, short on design, short on solutions for the community, and so high on density they fall short on residential quality too. I strongly urge you to reject it, again.

Lincoln Plaza, incidentally, is another building by the same developer, widely considered to be a pretty horrific eyesore, in London's Docklands.

I've annotated my live tweets of the meeting, which you can read on Storify

Wednesday 26 April, Nigel, aka SubDirectory (3). Updated 26 Apr, 13:08 by Nigel, aka SubDirectory (3)