A UK developer has been granted planning permission in east London after winning an appeal.

First reported by Building and Building Design, proposals for two residential towers and a data center inside the perimeter wall of the former East India Dock have been given the go-ahead by a planning inspector.

East India render.png
– EID | Tower Hamlets Council

The 1.39-hectare site, at the western edge of the former East India Import Dock, is currently occupied by Mulberry Place and Lighterman House; two post-modern office blocks built in the 1990s.

The planning application proposed to demolish the existing office buildings and construct a 30-story residential building, a 36-story student residential building, a data center, and a building to provide flexible workspace, community use space, and/or a swimming pool.

EID (General Partner) LLP is the applicant for the project, with Simpson Haugh/Nicholas Webb/Savills acting as architects and agents.

Plans for the development were first put forward in October 2022 and rejected the same month, with councilors describing the proposals as “bulky” and having a negative impact on the nearby Naval Row Conservation Area.

The council's planning officers had recommended the proposal be approved, noting that the number of affordable homes was policy compliant, and warned the authority would find it “difficult” to defend the decision if it went to appeal.

An appeal was duly lodged in April 2023 and permission was granted this month. In his decision, planning inspector Callum Parker noted that while the proposed buildings were taller, the two blocks earmarked for demolition were “rather uninspiring” and the redevelopment would create more open space. He added that the proposals would have no impact on the setting of the former FT Printworks and other heritage assets.

“In practical terms, this would help better reveal the significance of both the CA and the listed Dock Wall,” he said.

The proposed data center would offer up to 35,000 sqm (376,700 sq ft) gross internal area of Class B8 (data center) floorspace.

The eight-floor facility could have a potential IT power of 30MW and feature six halls each of 1,200 sqm (12,900 sq ft). The filing notes the facility would require a backup source of power "in the form of 18 diesel-fuelled generators of 3.3 MW."

No end-user for the data center was listed, but Global Switch owns facilities directly to the north and east of the proposed development - and is expanding with a new building nearby. Telehouse also owns several facilities in the vicinity.

The docks opened in 1806 and closed in the late 1960s. In 1992 the site was redeveloped to create an office campus comprising four main buildings, providing disaster recovery space for businesses at Canary Wharf, together with Tower Hamlets Council Town Hall at Mulberry Place.