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Jam Factory garden could be open to public

A publicly-accessible garden could be created on Rothsay Street if a planning application given the green light on Tuesday is implemented.

Block D at the Jam Factory
Unoccupied block D has been targeted by vandals who have broken windows
Rothsay Street future garden?
This empty space on Rothsay Street could become a garden with public access during daylight hours

The residential conversion of the former Hartley's Jam Factory off Tower Bridge Road has a tortuous planning history spanning eight years, multiple applications and several legal challenges.

Even though blocks A, B and C have been occupied for several years, none of the homes in the gated upmarket housing scheme has planning permission.

On Tuesday night Southwark Council's planning committee resolved to grant planning permission for a scheme that will regularise the planning situation of the whole Jam Factory site.

But councillors were forced to concede that of the 189 homes in the overall development, only 18 units (10 per cent) will be 'affordable' shared-ownership flats managed by a housing association.

At a five-hour meeting last October members had pressed for all 42 of the unoccupied units in the newly-built block D to be 'affordable' homes, but this has now been deemed to be unviable. Now only the ground floor and first floor will be managed by Guinness Trust, with the upper floors sold on the open market.

"It's a particular personal sadness that to get settlement on this we're losing that level of affordable housing," said planning committee chair Cllr James Gurling.

At the October meeting councillors also resolved that block D should not be occupied unless the derelict land around the Jam Factory chimney (the block E site) was made into an amenity space.

Community garden on Rothsay Street

Last October councillors also rejected Angel Property's application to build a scheme (block E) comprising 20 homes on the vacant plot.

Angel Property launched an appeal against this refusal which is due to be heard in September, but they have pledged to abandon that appeal once permission is granted for the latest scheme.

In 2004 Jam Factory residents made a speculative planning application for the block E site to include a residents' amenity space and garden. Permission was granted although residents were unable to implement such a scheme.

Now Angel Property has adopted most aspects of the residents' scheme and says it will create a garden on the chimney site with public access during daylight hours.

The garden would include a lawn, children's play area, seating, tables and water feature.

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