Developer wants to add seven storeys to under-construction 49-storey Docklands tower

East London councillors are being urged to reject proposals to increase the height of an under-construction Isle of Dogs skyscraper by seven floors – taking its total height to 56 storeys.

A report to tomorrow night’s meeting of Tower Hamlets Council’s strategic development committee recommends refusal for the proposal to boost the height of the Make Architects-designed 225 Marsh Wall by 22m.

It is the latest in a series of barriers placed in front of the development, on the site of a former business centre to the south of Canary Wharf.

Tower Hamlets councillors originally rejected Make’s proposals for a 49-storey residential tower on the site in 2017 – despite the practice reducing the structure’s planned height from 56 storeys in a bid to secure local authority backing. Developer Cubitt Property Holdings won consent for the shortened scheme at appeal the following year.

That 332-home consent is currently under construction on the site, but new developer Chalegrove Properties is seeking a seven storey extension to the scheme under a reworking produced by Design Delivery Unit. It would provide an additional 58 homes and also proposes reconfigurations of the building’s main entrances and changes to its façades.

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The 56-storey version of 225 Marsh Wall, originally by Make Architects

Members of Tower Hamlets’ strategic development committee were split on the application the last time it was presented to them, back in March, and it was deferred. There has been a change of political control at the authority since then, with former Labour leader Lutfur Rahman’s Aspire party taking control in May’s local elections – where Rahman was also elected as borough mayor.

A report to tomorrow’s meeting says officers consider the height of the updated proposals to be “detrimental to the townscape and the Canary Wharf skyline”, which their report describes as of “strategic importance”.

“The proposal does not respond to the context and fails to deliver on the objectives and principles for managing tall buildings and their effect on local context and views as set out in the local plan,” they said.

In their March report on the proposals, planning officers said the DDU scheme failed to provide a policy-compliant level of cycle storage spaces and that there would be a “significant shortfall” for future residents. They added that waste-management and collection methods were “not appropriate” for a building of the scale proposed.

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225 Marsh Wall

The report to tomorrow’s meeting suggests that Chalegrove and DDU have addressed the cycle parking concerns, but not the wase-management issues. However officers conceded that the impact was “not considered to be significant”.

Officers concluded: “The planning balance exercise has not identified significant public benefits which would outweigh the harm caused to the townscape and skyline of strategic importance, as well as the proposal’s failure to meet other development plan policies relating to the design of tall buildings. On this basis, officers recommend the refusal of planning permission.”

Documents submitted to Tower Hamlets Council by the project team argue that the 56-storey version of 225 Marsh Wall is in line with Make Architects’ neighbouring 53-storey The Madison building – which is actually 2m taller than the proposed scheme, and Farrells’ 49-storey Project Skyline to the south.

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225 Marsh Wall, with The Madison to its left

“Although the building height is being increased by seven storeys, the articulated mass of the building maintains the slender and elegant profile with increased expressed verticality, whilst remaining responsive to its local context,” a DDU update to the design and access statement said.

It added that there would be a “meaningful visual connection between” 225 Marsh Wall and The Madison, to its west, “framing and book ending the public open space in between the two”.

The statement said 225 Marsh Wall, The Madison and Project Skyline would complement each other and “mark a gateway at the eastern end of Marsh Wall”.

The strategic development committee meets at 6.30pm tomorrow.