Report by Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter
The Central Parade development in Walthamstow has been granted planning permission – despite objections from residents and concerns from councillors.
Derelict garages behind the Grade 2-listed building in Hoe Street will be demolished by landowner Waltham Forest Council to make way for a five-storey tower containing 19 flats and commercial space. The south-western corner of Central Parade, currently empty commercial spaces, will be turned into two four-bedroom flats, available as social rent. The application was approved on the condition, put forward by planning committee member Marie Pye, that this wheelchair-accessible flat be exclusively offered to disabled residents.
Asim Mahmood, speaking as an Eastfield Road resident and not in his role as a councillor, said he was moved to comment because the proposed development was “hideous”. He said: “It’s absolutely dreadful and I would urge the planning committee, particularly as it’s a council-led development, to go back and get this looked into.
“Developers should come back, listen to what residents have said and come back with an application that will actually be supported by local residents.”
Jo Severs, another resident of Eastfield Road, which runs parallel to Hoe Street, urged the committee “to consider their duty to protect” listed buildings “for future generations to enjoy”.
She said: “I would like to see a suitable development built on this plot, however this development would cause significant detriment to local residents and the Walthamstow community.
“The proposed development will diminish this important building. It stands to reason that a taller building will be visible and obscure some part of the clock tower.”
The Central Parade building was built in the late 1950s and is considered a historic example of the “festival of Britain” style. The clock tower is considered a Walthamstow landmark.
Jo said she also feared the size of the new building will “overwhelm neighbouring residents’ properties” and increase traffic and parking problems in Eastfield Road.
Alan Siggers, the Conservative group leader, was the only planning committee member to vote against the application. He told the committee he “pretty much agreed with both objectors” and said the development “offers nothing” and would not provide “a great standard of accommodation”.
Cllr Siggers added: “These are going to be particularly expensive flats, I can understand why the council wants to do it, but I really see very little to recommend this.”
Despite voting to approve the scheme, Cllr Pye said: “If we are going to provide housing for local residents, it has to be of good quality.”
Labour committee members Keith Rayner and Vicky Te Velde, who both voted in favour, also expressed reservations. Cllr Rayner questioned whether the development would reduce “quite significantly the open space that’s available” while Cllr Te Velde said she “shared the concerns raised by other members”.
Although lead architect Fiona Scott was unable to speak because of technical difficulties with the software used to broadcast the meeting online, the council’s deputy planning manager Stanley Lau insisted the development will “preserve the architectural and historical significance of Central Parade”.
Stanley added that Historic England had been consulted and had “no objection” to the council’s plans for the listed building.
Construction will start shortly and is due to be complete by 2022.