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Hermitage Gardens to be caged and locked

Hermitage Gardens to be caged and locked

One of the joys of living in Wapping is being able to walk along the Thames and enjoy wonderful views of the River Thames.

At any time of day and night you can see people of all ages strolling, jogging or sitting and enjoying the peaceful view from Hermitage Gardens.

But not for much longer.

Hermitage Gardens (aka Cinnabar Wharf Memorial Gardens) will soon be locked up at night, so if you want to enjoy a night view of the Thames, Hermitage Moorings, Tower Bridge or The Shard you’ll need to do it soon.

Berkeley Homes approach to dealing with the problem of vandalism at the war memorial is to apply for planning permission to build 1.6m (5’3”) fences and gates around the whole of Hermitage Memorial Gardens so that they are “…either closed and locked during the night or fixed open at ‘other times’”.

A number of Wapping residents contacted us about the proposals last week, feeling strongly that they are the wrong way to tackle vandalism and urge you to make your comments and objections before the 5th September deadline (3 weeks from the date of the notice).

The planning application notice PA/11/01628 on display at Hermitage Gardens reads “New gates and alterations to railings to increase to 1.6m in height on existing park” but please see the planning application on Tower Hamlets website for full details.

Many Wapping residents have seen the notice at Hermitage, but understood the new 1.6m railings were to be put up around and protect the war memorial – the planning application documents show that the new railings and locking applies to the entire park.

Will caging and locking eliminate vandalism?

The proposal will succeed in keeping out the groups who vandalise Hermitage Gardens or use it as their outdoors pub (unless they climb over the fence).

But it will also keep out the other 15,000 law-abiding residents and many visitors to Wapping. A point the ‘Impact Statement’ in the planning application doesn’t mention.

Image Hermitage Gardens in Wapping

Surely this is the wrong approach to tackling anti social behaviour and vandalism – if the plans to cage and lock up Hermitage Gardens are approved, those causing the problem will surely move to Wapping New Stairs or somewhere else nearby? Then how long will it be before all the other gardens and river accessible spots in Wapping are also locked up?

A recent survey by Visit England showed the Tower of London was the most popular tourist attraction in the UK. Ironic then, that just the other side of Tower Bridge, residents in Wapping are about to be denied the right to view their river at night.

Why should Wapping residents – and visitors from all over the world be denied the right to view Tower Bridge and the Thames at night from Hermitage Gardens?

Please see planning application PA/11/01628 on Tower Hamlets website and register your comments or objections by 5th September.

Update 7 September 2011: planning application withdrawn

The planning application has been withdrawn – see comment below dated 6 September by Jon Aldenton, Turk’s Head Charity.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/wapping.onthames Wapping On-thames

    Now that the fools at the town hall have seen sense i will adding some before and after pics of Hermitage Gardens and encouraging all to enjoy the open spaces we still have left. A very good job done, and a big thank you to all who raised their voice. Chris Hill admin

  • http://www.facebook.com/wapping.onthames Wapping On-thames

    Well done Robin, the sons and daughters of Wapping.on.thames will be pleased to know its worth objecting ang making your voice heard. To all of you that protested, “Thank you”.

  • Robin M

    Had my official letter from the Planning Department today confirming withdrawal of the application – hurrah!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.baynes Mark Baynes

    Well done to everyone who objected to this! Long live people power!

  • Jon Aldenton

    Great news! Berkeley Homes have withdrawn the application, and the Council has begun enforcement action over the installation of the railings around the sculpture, which does not have planning permission, and is almost a worse defacing of the sculpture than the graffitti.

    The Turk’s Head charity offered more than a year ago to get the sculpture cleaned and restored. Prompt action on keeping it clean would have stopped the vandalism from getting worse. Engaging with the people whose activities have been causing problems is surely the sustainable solution, and we are willing to help.

    Meanwhile, perhaps Berkeley Homes can remove the illegal railings, which make the bird of peace look like a caged budgie.

  • paulm

    I am an owner at Cinnabar Wharf and agree with you and other contributors.I recall for sure from reviewing the section 106 when I bought the flat that the garden must remain open for 24 hours so they would definetely be going against this commitment. I dont know who is really pushing this. I can’t imagine it is Berkeley Homes as they dont really appear to have any incentive one way or the other, unless I am being naive and they have some sinister ulterior motive. Most likely it is being pushed by a small group of residents whose views are not representative of the community in Wapping who use the gardens. I will register my comments on the application.  

  • Han-k

    I have also registered my objections. Application is pretty inconsistent – one doc suggests access would only be from 6am-10pm, another says concierge can lock occasionally.  I find this particularly worrying – suggests access could more or less be determined by residents of Cinnabar Wharf. I have tried to find the Section 106 agreement – can’t find original docs, but this later planning document suggests they are required to provide 24hr access to public (section 8.4)

    http://moderngov.towerhamlets.gov.uk/Data/Development%20Committee/20030514/Minutes/$Hermitage%20Riverside%20CRT%20Scheme..doc.pdf

  • Gillianamuir

    Totally saddened by the proposals but can rely on the Wapping folk and others  to get that scorched in the bud.

  • Keithsharpdeg

    This is not the way to solve the problem and sadly it will adversely effect the law abiding local residents who enjoy this space. Perhaps the use of cameras to catch these vandals and then punish them would be a more sensible approach. I am sure that the majority of local residents and the many tourists who venture to this part of Wapping would resist this proposed action to cage in the park. There needs to be a fresh re-think on this important matter because once in place, it will be difficult to go back to the wonderful space we currently enjoy.

  • Robin M

    I’ve registered my objections via the LBTH website – I’ve also typed “Objection to the proposals” in the comment box just for the avoidance of doubt, before my comments.

  • Discovery Walk

    I’ve registered my objections!

  • NH

    I think this fence would be a great shame.  A new fence will be ugly and ruin the view all the time just because a few young people congregate there, and that park has the most fantastic view. I live at the other end of Wapping but I have spoken to friends who live opposite the park and even they object to the fence – saying they’ve not been aware of a problem. Obviously vandalism is nasty but this fence seems like an over-reaction. I’ll certainly register my objections on the council website.
    This also got a mention in the national press on Sunday!
    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/matthew-bell-the-iiosi-diary-210811-2341169.html 

  • Simon

    I agree with the comments here. Fencing off the park will not solve the problem. I (in common with the vast majority of residents) very much enjoy using the park both day and night.

    Jon Aldenton, do you happen to have further details of the s106 Agreement so that it can be cited in objections?

  • Peter

    Sounds like a good idea to me.

  • Olive

    How’s behind this decision? Neighbours? How may? This information should be made public. 

    Why should the whole neighbourhood suffer from a crazy idea of a few?Does Berkeley Homes realise that it’s the only area in Wapping left with the evening river view? Last December the guys in Trafalgar Court locked up their access to the river front justifying it the same way. BUT somehow they managed to lock their gates at 8pm! Though according to the law the nuisance is not allowed only after 11pm.So, what time are they planning to lock the gates at Hermitage Gardens?The council should deal with the problem of nuisance, if there is one in the area, but not just give out permissions to lock up the heritage. I live in Wapping and I want to enjoy the scenery, which by the way forms the cost of my property.   

  • Jon Aldenton

    What an outrage! What evidence of vandalism do Berkeley have? Isn’t this just about the occupants of the flats not wanting to be disturbed by young people of a different ethnic background using a public space they overlook?

    The park was won from developers by community action- I spent 2 weeks in a public enquiry representing the Civilians Remembered campaign to get the park; the Section 106 agreement specifies that the park is to be permanently open to the public. So have the Council agreed to vary the legal agreement without consulting anyone?

    Is a petition against these privatising proposals required?

  • Curranrosemary

    Very sad, sign of our times.

  • SW

    Since the ‘Dove’ has been protected by a fence there has been no vandalism to the sculpture.
    BTW the fence protecting the the ‘Dove’ did not require planning consent.
    So if the ‘Dove’ is now protected why are the new fence and gates required ?

  • Chris Hill53

    Call me cynical if you like but i’ve seen this happen in several places around london and it looks like the site will be shut off to the public beacause of “Vandalism”. left to rot and become unkept. then a plan to use the site for housing will be ok’d and up market flats will be built at £300,000 plus and some one will get rich. while the rest of the residents have less recreation area. I work in security and i’ve seen dozens of sites left to rot till the council declare them unsafe and they are sold off for developement.