Bridges to Fish Island in Hackney Wick

MQT on 2017-09-14
Session date: 
September 14, 2017
Question By: 
Caroline Russell
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


What is your view on the extent of opposition to the demolition at Vittoria Wharf and proposed road and pedestrian bridges linking the Olympic Park and Fish Island in Hackney Wick?


Answer for Bridges to Fish Island in Hackney Wick

Answer for Bridges to Fish Island in Hackney Wick

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Deputy Chairman.  Half of Vittoria Wharf was purchased by the London Development Agency (LDA) in 2009 to enable a new pedestrian and cycle crossing to be built across the Lee Navigation Canal.  Ownership then passed to the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) in 2012.


I am aware that the LLDC’s plans have attracted some concern, particularly around the planned ending of a temporary-use warehouse by a small number of creative and business users who had been given short-use leases by the Corporation.  Those tenants were aware when they signed their leases that this was not a permanent arrangement.


The LLDC’s plans to install two new bridges are not a standalone development but are, in fact, part of a wider strategy for Hackney Wick and Fish Island in the Local Plan that includes up to 4,500 new homes and new employment space including the protection and re-provisioning of 8,400 square metres of low-cost work space and artist studios and a major refurbishment of Hackney Wick Station.  The bridges will connect communities to each other including future neighbourhoods to be built to wider forms of public transport, open space, new schools, healthcare facilities, universities and cultural facilities, and the economic opportunities that surround them including high-quality jobs.


The bridge plans have been reviewed and tested several times, most recently prior to the detailed planning application being submitted in early 2017.  There was also an extensive public consultation on the proposed designs for the bridges during the summer and autumn of 2018 ‑‑


Caroline Russell AM:  Mr Mayor, my question was actually: what is your view of the extent of the opposition to these plans?


Let me just make it a bit clearer.  Assembly Members Boff, Gavron, Shah and I have recently sent a letter to Peter Hendy [CBE, Chair, LLDC] calling for an immediate halt to the proposals until the LLDC had carried out a proper review and looked at alternative options.  Assembly Member Pidgeon has opposed the proposals. Assembly Member Shah as Chair of the Assembly’s Regeneration Committee published a report, Creative Tensions, which recommended exploring the alternatives.  That is the cross-party consensus on this issue, which I hoped you were aware of.


There is also political opposition on the ground from the Labour ward councillor, Rachel Blake, the Labour Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs - who is very clear on this - and the local Labour Member of Parliament (MP) Rushanara Ali.  Are they all wrong?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am surprised you are not aware of the way the process works on planning matters.  I am surprised you are not aware of the consultation that took place.  I am surprised you are not aware of the decisions of the Committee, which represents a number of councils in that part of London.  I am surprised you are not aware that the H16 Stour Road [planning application] was passed by the Committee by seven votes to two.  I am surprised you are not aware that the H14 [planning application] was passed eight to one by the Planning Committee.  These are decisions taken after due process and due consultation involving councillors from the relevant boroughs.  You are seeking my intervention against local democracy, which surprises me.


Caroline Russell AM:  I am asking you if you are aware of the extent of the local opposition and the cross-party opposition to these plans.  That was my question to you.


Let us pick up on this bridge.  There is a pedestrian bridge at the moment at Monier Road and the LLDC wants to turn it into a link road from the Olympic Park to the A12, cutting through Fish Island.  That is a rat-run.  My question is: how is punching a rat-run through the middle of Fish Island, which is a low-traffic residential area, supporting your Healthy Streets and traffic reduction policies?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  What, Deputy Chairman, this Member is trying to do is overturn the Planning Committee’s conclusions and they have considered this properly.  I do know that my Deputy Mayor [for Planning, Regeneration and Skills] Jules Pipe also met with local objectors to discuss their concerns and was reassured that the Planning Committee and those involved with the decision-making had taken on board my policies and made their decision looking at all the evidence.


I cannot overturn the Planning Committee’s findings unless I have a very good reason.  The threshold is very high and the evidence I have seen, Deputy Chairman, means that the threshold has not been met.


Caroline Russell AM:  Yes, Mr Mayor, you are saying there is a threshold.  You are saying there is a high threshold.  You are saying it is very high.  That means there is a threshold.  You can decide to ditch these plans.  There is a compelling case to reopen the decision.  Other development plans for the Olympic Park have been changed.  These could be changed, too.  There are people from every party and campaigners in the Chamber here today.  You are looking at a whole Chamber of people who are really keen that you change your mind.  Will you change your mind?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I have looked at the processes gone through, which I invite you to do as well.  I have looked at the decisions of the Planning Committee.  I have spoken to my Deputy Mayor who has met with the objectors.  I have also asked Transport for London (TfL) to work with the LLDC to review the traffic modelling and options for operating the bridge in light of my new draft Transport Strategy.


Caroline Russell AM:  Mr Mayor, the LLDC works for you and so let us hope that you can get them to stick to your policies.  Thank you.