City Hall told to allow over 1,500 new homes on Poplar's Aberfeldy Estate

A graphic depicting the proposed redevelopment scheme in Poplar (EcoWorld London)
A graphic depicting the proposed redevelopment scheme in Poplar (EcoWorld London)

Sadiq Khan’s planning deputy has been advised to grant permission for a major re-development project in Poplar, which would see more than 1,500 new homes built.

In a formal recommendation to deputy mayor Jules Pipe, City Hall planning officers have said he should approve the proposed scheme on the Aberfeldy Estate - despite the fact that Tower Hamlets Council have voted it down.

The project would see the demolition of 330 existing homes and their replacement with 1,565 new ones.

The planning application originally proposed 1,582 new homes, but this was reduced slightly after Housing Secretary Michael Gove announced last year that he intends to ban all new buildings taller than 18 metres which do not have second staircases. The rule is being brought forward as a fire safety measure.

Mr Pipe is expected to make a decision on the scheme at a public hearing on Friday next week.

Councillors on Tower Hamlets’ strategic development committee voted unanimously to reject the application in February 2023, despite their own planning officers recommending that they approve it.

The committee justified its refusal on the grounds that it would worsen local traffic, not provide enough affordable housing, reduce sunlight for nearby buildings, and would place a tall development outside the council’s ‘tall building zone’.

But in a letter to the authority in May 2023, Mr Pipe argued that the scheme could play an important part in helping London get closer to its housing targets, as well as providing new retail and employment workspaces.

451 of the 1,565 homes are proposed to be affordable - though the figure includes 252 social rent homes which would be demolished and re-provided in the new development.

He added that the proposals would help pedestrians and cyclists travel around the area, thanks to the repurposing of a vehicular underpass under the A12.

In a 248-page report, City Hall’s planning officers have advised Mr Pipe that for these and other reasons, he should overturn the council’s refusal of the project.

They added that the “demolition and construction phases of the development (across a period of 10 years and 8 months) would generate approximately 651 full time equivalent jobs, including apprenticeship roles”.

Most of the homes are proposed to have only one or two bedrooms. The tallest building on the development would be 28 storeys high, along with two at 24 storeys, and eight further buildings between six and 12 storeys.

The application was submitted by Aberfeldy New Village LLP - a joint venture between housing association Poplar HARCA and Malaysian developer EcoWorld.

The scheme is part of a wider regeneration of the Aberfeldy Estate which has been ongoing since 2012.

The hearing will be held at City Hall at 10am on Friday, January 26.