Aspire Councillors are facing criticism from Tower Hamlets Labour for controversially approving plans for developers to build a 46-storey tower block in Canary Wharf with no affordable housing.

The planned site at 56-58 Marsh Wall, would have had to include 278 affordable flats under the council’s 35% affordable home quota. However, at April’s meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee, five Aspire councillors voted to waive the item through without the need to include any affordable housing. Four Labour Councillors voted against the application, and one Aspire member abstained, meaning the Aspire Chair of the Committee broke the tie in favour of the developer.

The decision comes against a backdrop of missed targets for the Aspire Party and its leader Mayor Lutfur Rahman, with the Council’s most recent corporate performance report detailing endemic overcrowding and sluggish affordable home delivery.

Councillor Asma Islam (Weavers), Labour’s shadow member for housing, said:

“The approval for this development is frankly mystifying – Mayor Rahman promised residents in Tower Hamlets that he would get to grips with the housing crisis and yet his party is underdelivering, underperforming and letting residents down.

This development could have built 278 affordable homes for Tower Hamlets residents, instead we will end up with 795 luxury apartments for people outside of the borough and yet another example of Mayor Rahman overpromising and underdelivering.”

Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Councillor Sirajul Islam (Bethnal Green East), said:

“The mayor likes to talk the talk about the housing crisis our residents are facing– with so many living in desperate, overcrowded conditions. Yet, when it is time to walk the walk, his Councillors approve a planning application of this size which includes not one unit of affordable housing.

Aspire’s decision is all the more confounding, given that had they been included, these 278 homes would have helped some of the 20,000 people on the Council’s housing waiting list – as well as contributing towards the mayor’s ambitious manifesto promise of delivering 2,000 social homes each year”.