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London Arena Plans Approved

Irish developer Ballymore have finally succeeded after three years of trying and multiple design revisions in getting plans for London Arena at Crossharbour in the Isle of Dogs past the Borough of Tower Hamlets Council planning committee with a vote by the committee to resolve to grant consent to their development.

The original designs were floated in 2002 for the 6.8 acre site, but with a range of six towers and radical remodelling of the DLR required proved to be too dense and far-reaching. Since then Ballymore and the project architect, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with the help of planning consults GVA Grimley and transport experts Arup Transport Planning and have concentrated on a single tower solution surrounded by lower rise blocks facing on to communal squares.

This single tower scheme was originally over 170m tall with attached lower rise blocks arranged in squares around open community space but received strong criticism from the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, who felt that the combination of the design and size made it overpowering, with a lack of aesthetic detail and unremarkable. There were also worries that the tower was too tall because of its relative proximity to City Airport at the Royal Docks about a mile away and complaints from the locals who felt the gentrification of the area was forcing them out and resent that there have been few direct benefits from other developments in the area on the local community with section 106 money simply swallowed up by the council to cover holes in its budget.

A third design revision saw the tower height chopped down to the current 43 floors and 131 metres but was unable to get past Tower Hamlets who pushed it back citing concern about the lower rise element and the provision of affordable housing, a recurring issue between Ballymore and Tower Hamlets in the majority of their schemes.

This time round the project contains 972 apartments reduced from 1,047, a 15,000 square metre hotel with 225 hotel rooms, 26,500 sq m of office space plus retail and leisure facilities on the lower floors. All of this has provided the right mix for the planning committee to give it the thumbs up although local opposition has remained vocal.

Ballymore have had enormous success in docklands so far with New Providence Wharf having sold out. They anticipate the same for Pan Peninsula Tower, the newly named 1 Millharbour, across the dock from the London Arena site, and hope that they can begin marketing the first phase of this scheme in the second half of 2006.

Article Related buildings:

Crossharbour Building 1 (design 2)

Crossharbour Building 1 (design 2)
Crossharbour Building 1 (design 1)

Crossharbour Building 1 (design 1)
Crossharbour Tower 1

Crossharbour Tower 1
London Arena
London Arena