Council proposes smaller-scale scheme at Chingford Library, reports Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter
Waltham Forest Council is shrinking its controversial Chingford Hub development following opposition from residents.
Initial proposals to redevelop Chingford Library and Assembly Hall, funding the project by adding a block of around 40 flats, were approved by the council’s cabinet in June last year.
But Conservative councillors and thousands of residents objected to the scheme, arguing a building higher than three storeys would harm the area’s “quaint, semi-rural” character.
In response to these concerns, new proposals for the site, presented to the growth scrutiny committee last week, consider reducing the height of the building from six to five storeys.
Simon Miller, cabinet member for housing, told the committee the council originally hoped to build a taller “less obtrusive” building but was now considering a broader but shorter design.
He said: “We think, on balance, we will work towards the shorter building, subject to planning [permission].
“It’s a broader building, with the same number of units of the same size, over a smaller number of floors.”
As the current site is listed as an asset of community value, the council is required to go through “the community right to bid process” if it wishes to sell it.
The council completed this process in late 2020, receiving no expressions of interest, and now has until May next year to sell, should it choose to do so.
Conservative committee member Emma Best said she feels the council is “getting somewhere closer” with the new smaller-scale design but said she was concerned officers had not mentioned parking.
She said: “People are just as worried about the fact this is a car-free development for 40 flats as they were about the height. That has been a priority issue brought up time and time again.”
She also suggested that the council “encourage the design team to bring the proposed floors down to four storeys”.
Director of Capital Delivery Joe Garrod responded that the design, which has yet to be finalised or appear before the planning committee, was still in a “very early feasibility stage”.
He said: “As part of the subsequent detailed design phase, there will need to be a parking strategy and overall transport assessment that looks to mitigate the impact as much as possible.”
He also noted that the council’s policy is to create car-free developments and to focus on encouraging new residents to use alternative methods of transport or car shares.
The latest proposals will appear before cabinet next month, with officers seeking approval to move on to creating a more detailed design.