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Stephen Halsey (London Borough of Tower Hamlets) and

Why this petition matters

( pic: @BalfronSocial)


Alleged social landlord Poplar HARCA has finally submitted plans to refurbish the 146 homes at Balfron Tower, in Poplar, East London, which it promised to do when it took over management of the block in 2007. However instead of returning the refurbished flats to former social tenants they will be sold off as luxury apartments on the private market. This will see a loss of 99 social homes despite HARCA boss Steve Stride claiming no development should see a loss of social housing.

Architect Ernö Goldfinger specifically designed the block to give tenants on low incomes a decent standard of living. Residents cherish the light and space in their homes and the extraordinary view from them. Now HARCA deem them too valuable for the local community.

We demand that Balfron stays at least 50% social. Please help us in achieving this by writing in objection to the plans by Oct 10th and by signing and sharing this petition. (Tower Hamlets planning website is currently down! We will update as soon as it is back up!)


We are a group of former residents, leaseholders and local campaigners united against the privatisation of Balfron Tower. Poplar HARCA have been moving residents out since 2010 but they have not released plans for us to challenge until now.

We believe that due process has not been followed in the current planning application. The planning application is made up of 130 complex documents. This petition aims to explain our concerns in an accessible way so we can all voice our objections.

Our objections are based on the following:

1. Failure to meet statutory affordable housing targets

The privatisation means that 99 social rent homes will go forever. This breaches policy in ‘The London Plan’ produced by the Mayor of London which specifically states that plans should “resist loss of housing, including affordable housing”. It also goes against policy followed by previous planning applications for refurbishment of listed post-war buildings in Tower Hamlets.

2. Failure to meet best practice guidelines on inclusive consultation

Consultation has been hidden from residents, the local community and local scrutiny. In the planning application Balfron is referred to as a ‘sensitive site’ which means that it should have gone through a “range of additional consultation techniques” according to Tower Hamlets’ ‘Statement of Community Involvement’. This has not happened.

3. Failure to meet adopted standards defining heritage significance

Historic England are considering an application to upgrade Balfron Tower’s listing to Grade 11* and planning should not have been submitted until this outcome is known. The planning application recognises Balfron’s original purpose as social housing as “significant in historic and architectural terms”, yet this will be irreparably destroyed under the current planning application.

4. Failure to meet best practice guidelines on accountable regeneration

Regeneration consultation documents promised that “no resident will lose their home involuntarily” and “there will be no loss of homes for rent on the Brownfield Estate”. Poplar HARCA’s best practice guidelines advise “being honest from the outset and presenting residents with the facts in simple, unjargonistic language”. This has certainly not been the case with Balfron Tower. All tenants have lost their homes in Balfron, with no hope of return, and communication with tenants and leaseholders has been almost non-existent.

Please support our challenge to the planning application. We may be too late for the former Balfron residents that have moved out, but we are not too late to ensure that Goldfinger’s original intention for the building is honoured in its accessibility to future social housing residents.

To read more about the application challenge and the references supporting our challenge please go to:

Thank you for your support.


Petition authors: Balfron Social Club, Tower Hamlets Renters, Action East End and Dr Vanessa Crawford

Balfron Social Club, a local campaign comprising of former and current Balfron Tower tenants and leaseholders, artists and academics:

Tower Hamlets Renters, an independent local group campaigning for safe, secure and affordable housing:

Action East End, a local group fighting for community and solidarity in our communities and workplaces:

Dr Vanessa Crawford, Balfron Tower leaseholder:



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