Dovers Corner battle nears climax

THE FINAL battle over the controversial building proposal for Dovers Corner - the gateway to Rainham - has begun.

Planning inspector George Baird opened the inquiry into the mixed housing development at the CEME Centre, in Rainham, onTuesday.

Mr Baird will determine whether the 634 apartments and 95 houses - a development dubbed “tower city” by objecting councillors and residents which in parts reaches 10-storeys and nine-storeys high - should be built on the site or not.

A 50-strong crowd of angry residents, councillors and campaigners from Adamsgate Action Group gathered in protest to demonstrate their fighting spirit ahead of the inquiry bearing placards with the words “say no to tower city” and chanted “no to tower blocks for Rainham”, “no to high rise”, “no to overdevelopment”, and “no to tower city” - the crux of their argument against the build.

The inquiry, which will include verbal and written evidence and a site visit, is expected to last eight days, but could overrun, Mr Baird said.

Havering Council, which was consulted on the original application and refused it, will be supporting their objection.

London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC), the decision-making authority for large scale schemes in this part of Rainham, approved the scheme designed by Weston Homes but initially adjourned making a decision, which spurred the developers to submit an appeal should they refuse - hence the inquiry. Both parties want the scheme to go ahead.

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The development has been repeatedly criticised for not being consistent with the village feel of Rainham and if approved, campaigners say it would set a precedent for future developments.

Cllr Mark Logan said: “We would like the decision rescinded for building high rise and see more three or four-bedroom houses with gardens.”

Opening the case for Havering Council Andrew Fraser-Urquhart said: “Dovers Corner is in no doubt in need of regeneration...but of the highest quality. This scheme fails to provide the necessary quality of development.”

He said the council’s evidence will detail highways concerns, the scale of the scheme and its impact on the surrounding village and conservation area.

Spokesman for LTGDC, Hereward Philpott, said: “The Corporation’s support for the scheme reflects the professional views of officers informed by advice of external consultants.” He said it “represents good design”.

Christopher Katkowski QC, representing Weston Homes, said: “We regard the proposals as well thought-through and of high quality.” He added the fears of social problems residents associated with the taller buildings were based on their perceptions of the existing blocks on the Mardyke Estate and said “the proposed development would give rise to no such issues”.

The inquiry continues.