Forest Road Development Corridor
Post date: Aug 4, 2020 7:48:50 PM
RESPONSE FROM WARD COUNCILLORS
I am writing to you on behalf of the Chapel End, Wood Street and Hale End and Highams Park Councillors in answer to your questions.
Library site - What is going to be built on the old Wood Street library site as the hoardings are now going up. Is this just to stop squatters until a decision is made or has the development reached the planning application stage and if so why has the public not been consulted?
The new library in Wood Street is due to open in mid-August 2020, providing residents with a wider range of services in a purpose-built modern building. The facilities will include state of the art meeting space and public computers, as well as a brand-new café for the community to enjoy. As a Library Plus it will be open for longer hours than the former library so the services will be more easily available for residents.
Hoardings have now been erected around the former Wood Street library to make the site secure.
The existing site will be redeveloped to into a Families and Homes Hub with offices on the ground floor and residential above, including new affordable homes. The residential element will fund the cost of the new service provision.
This scheme forms part of the Council’s commitment to building better services and putting residents at the heart of everything we do. The new hub will be a people-focussed service centre offering a welcoming and safe place to get support from our Families and Homes teams.
The Council is currently working up design options for the new site and will consult residents extensively on the proposed plans.
For further information, please refer to the December 2019 Cabinet Report - https://democracy.walthamforest.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=287&MId=4807&Ver=4
Willow House - according to the January Cabinet meetings it is to be used as a Family Hub. What does that mean and where in the planning process has this reached? Listening to the developers of the Homebase site it does not look like much consultation between the two schemes is going on. As they are adjacent sites a proper holistic approach is needed.
We have yet to be informed of what the plans for Willow House may be. As and when we know, we will, of course, update residents.
Texaco garage has closed - is this just for refurbishment or is it part of the Forest Road corridor development plans?
The Co-op has submitted a planning application to the Council which proposes to refurbish the site, involving excavating and replacing the underground petrol tanks, providing new, modern petrol pumps, a new overhead canopy and demolishing the external sales kiosk and replacing it with a new, larger shop. There will also be properly marked out parking areas, allowing better circulation around the site, as well as resurfacing of all the external areas.
We have been told by the Co-op that due to the poor condition of the current petrol pumps and tanks and with the safety of the customers and staff in mind, the decision has been taken to cease trading until the planning application has been determined and, if approved, they can start the refurbishment works.
The Co-op has committed to re-opening the site in a much better, modern facility than has been the case over recent years. The planning application number is 201691 and it is open for comment until 7 August 2020, I have attached before and after site maps for your information.
Spruce Hills Road - What is the planning application number for the final plans for the Spruce Hills Road site adjacent to the college? It is appalling to think the magnificent frontage of the College is being sacrificed for funding purposes. It is a site that should not be built on, but work has now started.
Planning application 183568 was approved back in October 2018 for 12 new 2 and 3-bedroom homes, with 50 per cent being much needed affordable homes. The site has subsequently been sold on to L&Q and, only this morning, we have been told that hoardings will be going up around the site
ibn in the next few days.
Town Hall Campus - I am told by the planners the decision about the residential developments for the Town Hall Campus site have not been finalised and an EIA has been issued. So how many more flats will be allowed? Would this be just to fund the Town Hall improvements?
Planning approval has been granted for Phase 1 – the refurbishment of the Town Hall building. The Phase 2 planning application around the residential has yet to be submitted, but I believe that the intention is to provide somewhere in the region of 350 residential units on the Town Hall site and any profit would be fed back into the project.
EIA - So far, I have been unable to get any information about the EIA despite writing in with my comments about the scoping of the EIA. Clearly it is designed to look at the environmental consequences of development in this corridor. What is the point of it if the council allows the Homebase site, Spruce Hill, and the library site to proceed before the EIA has been properly discussed?
My understanding is that the EIA would need to be resubmitted if Inland Homes intend to submit a planning application that exceeds their existing EIA.
Children's Wellbeing - If the environment and children's health is of concern then the change of use for the Homebase site from Commercial to Residential has to be rejected. With all the residential development in the area space for commercial is necessary to ensure people don't have to travel far for shops. More importantly this site is ideal for playing fields. I argued this with Cllr Siggers years ago, when the Bremer School was being planned, and he rejected it on the grounds that it was 1950s thinking! Surely today it is even more vital as we allow the Borough to get over crowded more open space has to be created and sports fields on this site would be in walking distance of the children that we are told are in danger of becoming obese. I would like you to fight for this site to become playing fields for use by the children from the local school and college who can walk to the site i.e. Bremer, Woodside, Holy Family, WF College - that is at least 4,000 kids who could really benefit from a bold decision to reject the Homebase development.
As stated in our 2014 manifesto, new developments make a lasting and positive impact on our communities and it is vital we build new homes. As one of the leading London boroughs delivering affordable homes (47%) we will continue to work to open new housing opportunities for our residents.
Despite that, we, as the local Councillors, will continue to work on behalf of our residents to get the best deal for them with any planning application, as is the case here.
I’m sure you are aware that Chapel End is well placed for green spaces – we have Lloyd Park, Kitchener Park, Peter May sports ground, Chestnuts Fields and the front of the Town Hall as fully accessible green spaces. We have also managed to turn an unloved piece of concrete into a vibrant and well used pocket park in Brookscroft Road. There is also the newly refurbished Bisterne Avenue Park in neighbouring Wood Street ward as short walk from the Homebase site and of course we are also on the doorstep of Epping Forest.
We also take air quality very seriously, as you know. We declared a climate emergency in 2019 and the work we have already been doing and continue to do around air quality, including the Enjoy Waltham Forest programme places us, I believe, as one of the leading boroughs in the country.
Keep well and stay safe,
Cllr Paul Douglas
Cabinet member for Culture
London Borough of Waltham Forest
Tel: 07970 730525
Twitter: @chapelendward @paulyd1107