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Whats in Wapping

Public exhibition for the redevelopment of King Henry’s, Swan and Phoenix Wharves – 9 April 2013

Public exhibition for the redevelopment of King Henry’s, Swan and Phoenix Wharves – 9 April 2013

A public exhibition will place on Tuesday 9th April from 10am to 9pm about a proposed new 54 home residential development in Wapping High Street.

The scheme plans to redevelop Grade 2 listed King Henry’s and Phoenix Wharves and construct a new four storey family town house on the empty Swan Wharf site and also build a five storey block on the empty plot next to New Tower Buildings on the corner of Brewhouse Lane.

The 54 new residential development will comprise:

  • King Henry’s Wharf – 27 Private Flats
  • Swan Wharf – 4 storey Private House
  • Phoenix Wharf – 8 Private Flats
  • Landside (next to New Tower Buildings) – 18 Affordable Flats

The public exhibition will be held in room G10 in Tobacco Dock on 9th April will be hosted by Cunnane Town Planning who are acting on behalf of the owners and their client, Bridewell Thames.

The local community is invited to share their views on the development. Cunnane Town Planning have stated that comments made will be taken into account prior to the submission of their full planning application.

Redevelopment details and public exhibition information

For full details of the proposal, which includes visuals please view/download these documents provided by Cunnane (best done from a broadband connection):

  • Consultation boards (PDF 5.8MB) – view and download here.
  • Invitation sent to residents in immediate vicinity of the site (PDF 2.5MB ) – view and download here.

Historical information and recent background

King Henry’s Wharf is of great significant historical interest, as many of us learnt on a recent History of Wapping Trust walk.

At the rear of the warehouse on the riverside, it has Wapping’s most impressive looking cranes which relates to King Henry’s Wharf original use for the the storage and distribution of imports which arrived on the River Thames:

King Henry Wharf's in Wapping

The impressive crane on the rear riverside of King Henry's Wharf in Wapping


Despite much being written to the contrary, a spot at the rear of King Henry’s Wharf is also the real site of Execution Dock, which can be found just next to Wapping Pier (don’t trust all the tourist guides).

The proposals aim to retain many existing features but we’ve noted that one of the original timber loading doors will be boarded up and another made into an entrance hall. This is how they looked when we walked past today:

Original loading doors at the front of King Henry's Wharf

Original loading doors at the front of King Henry's Wharf on Wapping High Street


The door on the left is shown boarded up in the development proposal and the right hand door removed and turned into an entrance hall. A similar original door further along would also be replaced:

How the proposed doors on King Henry's Wharf will look according to the current consultation boards


Phoenix Wharf was built c1830 and is the oldest Wharf in Wapping, if not in the whole of London.

Phoenix Wharf stands next to the oldest and only remaining ‘Stepney lamppost’ in Wapping, which was originally a gas lamp. The current proposals show this historic lamppost will be removed.

On the corner of the landslide plot next to New Tower Buildings you can see one of Wapping’s finest historic c1850′s Napoleonic Cannon bollards. The bollard is retained intact on the projected illustrations, which we’re very happy about and declare full self-interest, as we made a greeting card featuring it.

Original Stepney lamppost next to Phoenix Wharf in Wapping

The oldest Stepney lamppost next to Phoenix Wharf in Wapping would be reduced to a stump under current proposals


This is how the proposed view would look from Brewhouse Lane with Phoenix Wharf behind the new landside development, a new house on the Swan Wharf site and the Stepney lamppost cut down:

Proposed view of the Swan Wharf site and the oldest and only remaining Stepney lamppost reduced to a stump


Another point worth noting is that Wapping High Street is extremely narrow opposite Swan Wharf and the landside site next to New Tower Buildings causes frequent problems for traffic and pedestrians, especially those in wheelchairs and with pushchairs or buggies.

People are often seen walking in the road and traffic struggles to pass, as we saw last week when a Tesco delivery van collided with the 100 bus and Wapping came to a stand still [view tweet and photo].

Could the pavement be widened and the new buildings set back to make it safer and more accessible?

The landside site for affordable housing is currently empty land used as a car park next to New Tower Buildings and is next to the wall of the (now removed) 2011 Banksy graffiti and opposite the Captain Kidd pub.

It is also less well known as the site where Captain Cook met his wife Elizabeth Batts, daughter of Samuel Batts in what was at the time the Bell Inn pub.

Banksy graffiti 'love plane' in Wapping High Street - London December 2011

Banksy graffiti 'love plane' on New Tower Buildings next to the proposed landside site on Wapping High Street - December 2011


This whole section of Wapping High Street is a designated and recognised conservation area, which all new and redevelopments should take into account when submitting planning proposals.

Of those we’ve heard views from about the new development so far, most are very positive about redevelopment and re-use of the empty sites and out-of-use Wharves, but feel very strongly that historic features such as the only remaining Stepney lamppost and original feature timber door on King Henry’s Wharf should not be removed – as they form part of what defines Wapping and once they are gone they are gone forever.

Lots of people have cited the Metropolitan Wharf redevelopment, which is now nearing completion as an example of where this has been done well, retaining the history of the area [view post].

Many have also expressed a view that the road and pavement should be widened and accessibility and safety improved.

Public consultation about King Henry’s, Swan and Phenix Wharf redevelopment – 9th April 2013

Please review the entire draft proposal for full information about the redevelopment as we’ve only highlighted some aspects and attend the public exhibition in room G10 at Tobacco Dock in Wapping Lane [view map] to share your feedback and comments before the final proposal is submitted to Tower Hamlets council.

Access to Tobacco Dock is via the pedestrian gate at Quayside on Wapping Lane, just opposite the 21 Wapping Lane development.

If you are unable to attend the public exhibition, you can send comments to Paul Reeves at Cunnane Town Planning LLP either via email paul.reeves@cunnanetownplanning.co.uk or by post 67 Strathmore Road, Teddington, TW11 8UG, tel: 020 8943 4032.

Help share this information and details of the public exhibition about the proposed redevelopment of King Henry, Swan and Phoenix Wharves to your neighbours and local friends.

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  • TJStamp

    I didn’t get a chance to go sadly but if their plan looks anything like the rendering I can see the resistance to it being pretty fierce. The materials and proportions are completely wrong. The terrible attempt to mimic NTB just sets it further at odds from it. They should concentrate on making either something with a character of its own and not focus on leeching the character from the surrounding buildings.

  • Mummy Penguin

    Thanks for noting the access point. The lack of an access slope to Tobacco Dock has I understand been raised with the Council as part of the discussions about the redevelopment of the News International site.

  • Mummy Penguin

    Thanks Brad for an informative post.

  • http://www.whatsinwapping.co.uk/ What’s in Wapping

    Mummy Penguin,

    Do hope Tobacco Dock will become more accessible soon, as for the upper floors at least, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

    The update in the comment above by Brad Clark here is along the same lines as we heard, so don’t have anything significant to add although of course other people may have raised points we’re not aware of as we were only there during the early evening.

    The next stage will be to keep an eye out for the formal planning proposal which should incorporate local feedback as far as is possible and any changes to what is here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bradclarkuk Brad Clark

    I popped along to the exhibition and was pleasantly surprised about how considerate the architects have been.

    They went to great pains to say that they are completely at the whim of the council who are very very protective over original features etc. We found out that the lamppost and the bollards are grade 2 listed and as such will not be removed, the artists impressions that do not feature the lamppost are an oversight.

    The plans show a widening of the pavement on the new tower building side of the road by at least half a metre, making access better. During the development phase they plan to use the piece of land next to new tower building for storage and vehicles to try and keep traffic to a minimum and are even considering the possibility of using the river for access (how wonderful it would be to see some of the cranes in action!)

    The wonderful old door will have to be replaced by a ventilated one as this will be the only place that a bin storage could go. The architect mentioned that many people have commented on it and is keen to keep hold of the door as a feature perhaps on the wall in the entrance lobby of King Henrys.

    The whole development is car free which means there will only be disabled parking spaces. They are also planning to create a covenant that means tenants and owners will not be able to apply for a parking permit either. I guess this is to allay concerns that parking is already tight in wapping. This does mean, however, that visitor parking will be even more stretched.

    Construction is unlikely to begin until mid to late 2014 by all accounts, and that is based on immediate approval of planning (which as Wapping is a conservation area is unlikely to be approved without further consultation and reports).

    I for one am glad that the scrappy bit of land next to my home (new tower buidlings) will be filled with something and I am even more thankful that it will be “affordable” housing. Wapping has such a unique feel because of the enclosed buildings on the high street and this development will return that feeling to this portion of the high street.

    The design of the building is sympathetic to the warehouses and is quality materials (unlike many affordable housing developments such as those near the hermitage moorings etc where they use the cheapest and most basic materials available).

    The conevrsion of the wharves, is also done with subtlety and consideration, and, in my opinion, is a much better use of such wonderful buildings than as simple storage.

    It will be interesting to see how it all pans out but at this very early stage I think the whole development can only be good for Wapping (even if that means a year or so of noise in my home).

  • Mummy Penguin

    Think it is really important to keep the historical features of the buildings and the street but agree that the narrow pavement is an issue for those of us in wheelchairs/prams.
    Having been along to check the access to the exhibition tomorrow, I find that the pedestrian gate at Tobacco Dock has two steps. So I won’t be able to attend the public exhibition. Look forward to learning more from a Whats in Wapping update.